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The Catalan judge María Lourdes Arastey Sahún has taken up her post this Thursday as a new member of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), on which she will be the Spanish representative, the court has reported. Arastey replaces Rosario Silva de Lapuerta from Madrid, an advocate general of the Luxembourg-based court since October 7th, 2003, having also held its vice presidency since October 9th, 2018.

The membership of the ECJ has been partially renewed with the arrival of 9 new members, 5 of whom are judges and 4 advocates general. Another 7 judges and 3 advocates general have had their positions renewed. The court has 38 members, 27 judges - one from each member state of the European Union - and 11 advocates general.

Long career

Maria Lourdes Arastey, born in 1959 in Tarragona, has had a long career as a jurist and law professor. She graduated in law from the University of Barcelona and began her career as a judge of first instance and investigation in Sant Feliu de Llobregat, near the Catalan capital, between 1985 and 1989.

Later she was appointed to the social law chamber of the High Court of Catalonia (TSJC). From 1998 to 2008 she was an associate professor of labour law and social security at the University of Barcelona. In 2009 she was appointed a judge of Spain's Supreme Court. And from 2013 to 2021 she was a judge at the NATO Administrative Court, based in Brussels. She has been a member of several bodies working in the fields of EU law, training and assessment of judges' competences and alternative dispute resolution methods.

The preliminary questions on Puigdemont

The ECJ, chief judicial authority of the EU, is the body that will have to decide on the preliminary matters presented last March by Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena on the European Arrest Warrants against the Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, and the former ministers in his government Toni Comín, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig. Llarena is seeking information on the grounds for rejecting a European Arrest Warrant (EAWs), such as those he has issued and considers valid against the Catalan independence leaders, three of whom are MEPs. The EAWs for the Catalan leaders have been rejected by Germany, Belgium and Italy.

In the most recent of these cases, the court of Sassari, in Sardinia, this Monday confirmed its decision to release Puigdemont and to accept the suspension of the EAW procedure until the ECJ rules on the preliminary questions and the EU General Court (EGC) makes its own decision on the immunity from prosecition of the three Catalan MEPs.


Main image: Lourdes Arastey with Basque government minister Josu Erkoreka at an event on judicial mediation / EFE