A Spanish proposal to create a European protection order for victims of domestic violence hangs in the balance ahead of a meeting of justice ministers in Brussels tomorrow (4 June).
Other member states, including Germany and the United Kingdom, have doubts about the legal basis of the proposal, according to diplomats, and might be ready to block it.
Spain, which holds the presidency of the Council of Ministers until the end of the month, has declared its ambition to get agreement on such a protection order as a priority of its presidency.
The European Commission has, however, also expressed doubts about Spain’s ambition. Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice, suggested that the proposal might be open to legal challenge if it was submitted on the basis of both criminal and civil law, as Spain wants. The Commission’s legal service is of the opinion that anything touching on civil law could be put forward only by the Commission. She announced that the Commission would propose its own, broader draft directive on victims’ rights in January. A Spanish spokesperson said that there was no reasonable argument in favour of waiting and that the presidency had sought the broadest legal basis possible.
The Commission’s opposition and the reservations voiced by some member states have prompted other governments to raise further doubts. Neither Germany nor the UK has unequivocally stated that it will vote against the proposal or abstain tomorrow, but without their support, Spain may run into political difficulties, even if it can muster a weighted majority in the Council of Ministers.
A member state diplomat said yesterday (2 June) that his government shared the objective of protecting victims of violence, but that it could not back the proposal in the form in which it had been submitted. “The Spanish presidency has quite some work to do before Friday,” the diplomat said.
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