The Left political group in the European Parliament - which takes in left-wing and far-left parties from all over Europe including, from the Spanish state, Podemos, EH Bildu, and Izquierda Unida - has issued a report called 'Binding the Guardian' which denounces "the European Commission's failure to safeguard the rule of law", and focuses on Spain as one of the key countries where the failings are especially evident. Specifically, the report asserts the "unjustifiable silence" of the European Commission regarding the numerous violations of the rule of law in Spain in relation to the Catalan independence process. After outlining the work of the European body as supervisor of the rule of the law in the member states, 'Binding the Guardian' examines the Rule of Law reports for the years 2020 and 2021 issued by the Commission, in which no references are made to the offences committed by Spain after the Catalan independence referendum of 2017.
"The Commission’s 2020 and 2021 Reports are both completely silent on the numerous rule of law infringements the Spanish government committed in response to the 2017 Independence Referendum in Catalonia [...] The case displays the full range of rule of law breaches in Spain - from judicial independence to the politicization of the executive", the text states.
"Systematic abuse of power"
As the report argues in its 21-page chapter on Spain, "the unpunished violation of fundamental rights and freedoms" can in no way be considered an "internal matter" of an EU state: "Under the guise of protecting a democratic Constitution, the Spanish authorities have engaged in a systematic abuse of power. It is a travesty of justice to enforce a constitutional provision by violating fundamental rights."
Catalan leaders' trial, a case for the EU
In this regard, the parliamentary group recalls Spanish problems in judicial independence, as well as the prison sentences given to the Catalan pro-independence leaders: "The court proceedings against the Catalan leaders constitutes one such case of a systematically occurring phenomenon which is in the European Commission’s mandate to address."
However, the report concludes that "the silence of the European Commission is unjustifiable - it constitutes an abrogation of its duty to safeguard the rule of law in the Union."
Omissions from the Rule of Law reports
The text, which was commissioned by Irish MEP Clare Daly and drafted by academics Albena Azmanova and Bethany Howard, also looks at violations of the rule of law in France and Bulgaria. Its aim is to provide "a list of some of the main omissions, errors and mistakes contained in the Commission's reports".