The Pegasus file is not closed in Europe. That is the assurance that the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, has given after meeting with the European commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders, to address the spyware scandal of which he himself has been a victim. Aragonès met with Reynders this Thursday seven years after the last meeting of a president of Catalonia with a member of the European Commission.
"Catalonia is a territory deeply committed to the process of European construction, and now more than ever. After the vital response given to Covid, Europe and the European institutions have a clearer leading role than ever", Aragonès emphasized in assessing the recovery of Catalan relations with Brussels, which had been frozen during the independence process.
As for the Pegasus issue, central to Catalan concerns after the Catalangate scandal six months ago revealed massive espionage against the independence movement, it was the main focus of the meeting with Reynders. Aragonès reported after the meeting that the European institutions are concerned about this issue, and for that reason the Justice commissioner has made a request for information to the Spanish authorities. "It is a folder that is not closed", he confirmed.
Aragonès criticized that this kind of monitoring "is not admissible in a democracy" and that "the fundamental rights of citizens must be protected, including the right to privacy, and the right to not be subject to espionage due to your political views, which is what has been happening in Catalonia."
Spain, the only EU state still to respond
On October 3rd, commissioner Reynders had reiterated that Spain was the only EU member state suspected of using Pegasus espionage software that had not yet responded to questions from Brussels. The other affected countries, Greece, Hungary and Poland responded weeks earlier to the request by the European Commission asking for information on the use of this software to carry out illegal monitoring of communications and activities. Reynders, who visited Madrid at that time, explained that the Spanish justice minister had given him "a lot of information" in the meeting they held, but insisted that the Commission wanted the "detail" in writing "as soon as possible".
Also in early October, the European Parliament committee in charge of investigating espionage using the Pegasus program formally asked the executive director of Europol to propose to the affected member states, including Spain, that they investigate illegal espionage in their countries using the spyware.
Spanish in Catalan schools
During this Thursday's EU meeting, commissioner Reynders also brought up the situation of the Spanish language in Catalan schools, an issue that the Ciudadanos party has been very active in denouncing to the institutions in Brussels. The Catalan president explained to Reynders that the Parliament in Barcelona had passed new legislation on this subject and the High Court, which had earlier decreed a 25% quota of classroom time in Spanish in all Catalan schools, had admitted that under the new regulations a numerical percentage of Spanish in classrooms could not be applied. Under Catalonia's new language law, the education system continues to have a focus on students achieving mastery of both Catalan and Spanish, and to have Catalan "as its centre of linguistic gravity", while also rejecting across-the-board language quotas as counterproductive.