27.04.2022 - 15:42
The European Commission (EC) met with anti-independence entity Catalan Civil Society (SCC) before it was inscribed in the European Union’s transparency register. In December 2021, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, also a victim of Pegasus spyware, met with SCC, which was not registered until the end of January 2022, although the internal code of conduct prohibits commissioners to meet with unregistered organizations.
MEPs warned about the fact in a European Parliament question, but Brussels has dodged the issue. In a response sent last Friday, the EC assures that they apply high standards of transparency in their contacts with stakeholders. However, it does not mention the requirements of the code of conduct. “Commissioners and members of their cabinet may only meet with those organizations or autonomous individuals that are registered in the Transparency Register (…) to the extent that they fall within its scope” reads Article 7 of the code of conduct of the community executive.
The Transparency Register is a database that includes stakeholders (organizations, associations, groups and self-employed people) who carry out activities to influence EU policy and decision-making.
Meeting in December 2021
The then president of the anti-independence entity, Fernando Sánchez Costa, and the MEP of unionist Ciudadanos, Ramón Bauzá, met in early December 2021 with the Commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders, to ask Brussels to force Catalan public authorities to comply with a Spanish sentence on the use of languages in Catalan schools. The organization also accused the Catalan government of eroding the rule of law and conveyed to Reynders the importance of the European orders being complied with.
Junts MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí sent a complaint to the EC over the meeting and denounced the entity’s close ties to the far right. However, the EC defends the meeting with SCC and argues that it maintains an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representatives of civil society. “Our door is always open and it is important for the EC to interact with civil society and listen to different points of view,” Justice spokesman Christian Wigand said in the face of criticism from pro-independence activists.
Despite these arguments, the truth is that Reynders only met with SCC and did not accept the request made in December by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), which is an entity that was indeed registered in the European Union’s transparency register.
There was a request
Reynders has defended the meeting with SCC because a MEP from Ciudadanos asked for it. He said it was logical to hold the meeting, as there was a “request from the European Parliament”.