Brussels expects political will to unblock judicial reform in Spain

Brussels (EFE) – The European Commission (EC) still expects “political will” to soon unblock the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) and reform the system for electing judges in Spain, said Vice-President and Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourová.

At a meeting with European media, including EFE, Jourová recalled the two requests that Brussels had addressed to Spain in the annual reports on the rule of law in the European Union, the last of which was published in July.

“We insist that Spain has to do two things: put the judiciary in order and appoint and designate the necessary judges” for the replacements, to ensure a full functioning of the institutions and a “reform the system,” Vera Jourová added.

The 2022 Rule of Law report encouraged Spain to proceed with the renewal of the CGPJ “as a matter of priority” and to “initiate, immediately after the renewal, a process to adapt the appointment of its members, taking into account European standards,” she recalled. (February 17)

Austrian ministers Schallenberg and Edstadler do not see Austria under pressure

Munich (APA) – Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Minister for the EU Karoline Edtstadler (both from the Austrian People’s Party ÖVP) do not see Austria under pressure due to its adherence to military neutrality in the Ukraine war. “I have never received requests that we should supply weapons,” Schallenberg said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) last Friday. “It is recognized that we are doing an incredible amount in other areas,” Edtstadler added, referring to humanitarian aid.

In this regard, Edtstadler recounted her recent visit to Kiev, where there was a fire following a Russian missile attack. “The firefighter was wearing protective gear from [the Austrian city] Graz,” she said. Schallenberg pointed out that, measured in terms of its economic output, Austria ranks first when it comes to humanitarian aid for Ukraine. He also said Austria was “riding sharply on the edge (of) what is possible under neutrality law” in the conflict.

The foreign minister also aroused attention with his positive comments on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who had been heavily criticized domestically for his perceived hesitation on military support for Ukraine. “I am glad that the leaders of these states who are delivering [it] are not taking it lightly, but are very visibly struggling for the right decision, which also takes time,” Schallenberg stressed. He said he expected that the war “will be with us for most of the year, if not all of it” and that “not all levels of escalation have been reached yet.” “What we don’t want is for this war to expand,” he stressed. (February 17)

EPP cancels Naples summit after Berlusconi’s words on Ukraine

Brussels (ANSA) – “Following Silvio Berlusconi‘s remarks on Ukraine, we have decided to cancel our conference in Naples. Support for Ukraine is not optional,” Manfred Weber, president of the European People’s Party (EPP), wrote on Twitter. “All [Zelenskyy] had to do was to stop attacking the two autonomous republics of the Donbas and this would not have happened,” Berlusconi had told Italian media. The EPP meeting was scheduled for June in Naples. According to sources inside the EPP, Silvio Berlusconi as well as the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, were expected to attend. However, after Berlusconi’s remarks on Ukraine several MEPs from the EPP group, mainly from Eastern Europe, let Weber know that they disapprove of a meeting with Berlusconi, the EPP says. The EPP points out that trust in Forza Italia and in Antonio Tajani remains intact. (February 17)

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