News round up..

A smattering of news from the EU Live blog:

Today, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Council Charles Michel signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.

This follows the process of parliamentary ratification and Royal Assent in the UK, concluded yesterday. After the upcoming signature of the Withdrawal Agreement by UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the way will be open for its ratification by the European Parliament, where a Plenary vote is scheduled for next Wednesday 29 January. A positive recommendation regarding the Agreement was approved yesterday by the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs by 23 votes for, three against, and no abstentions.

Once the European Parliament has given its consent, it is expected that on Thursday 30 January the Council will adopt, by written procedure, the decision on the conclusion of the agreement on behalf of the EU. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is set for midnight CET on 31 January 202

Oriol Junqueras, leader of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), a Catalan pro-independence party, and former Vice-President of the Catalan regional government, has filed legal proceedings against the European Parliament. Mr Junqueras is currently serving a sentence of imprisonment, having been prosecuted for sedition and embezzlement of public funds in the course of actions seeking the unilateral independence of Catalonia. While proceedings before the Spanish Supreme Court were ongoing, Mr Junqueras was elected as a Member of the European Parliament. The Spanish Supreme Court referred a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union requesting when precisely his immunity as an MEP commenced, the preliminary ruling confirming that immunity began as soon as the election results had been proclaimed. (Read Daniel Sarmiento’s Op-Ed on that case here).

The Spanish Supreme Court convicted Mr Junqueras, and in the sentence imposed on him banned him from holding public office. As a result, the European Parliament removed his status as an MEP. Mr Junqueras has started legal proceedings against the European Parliament for that decision, and is requesting interim measures against that EU institution’s decision not to recognise his status as an MEP.

This news comes soon after Vox filed for legal proceedings against the European Parliament for recognising two other Catalonian politicians, Carles Puigdemont and Antoni Comin, as MEPs. For more information on that other case, read this post of 22 January.

In Gibraltar news …

The GFSC has concluded a comprehensive organisational restructure resulting in a flatter, wider and more inclusive management structure. GFSC CEO, Kerry Blight, will have direct line management responsibility for each member of the new management team. The restructure coupled with previous cost management action taken within last few months, including a recruitment freeze and no replacement of staff who left the GFSC, has resulted in permanent full-time employee numbers reducing from above 100 to 78.

Kerry Blight said: “The restructure and cost management action taken are a proportionate response to streamlining the organisation and to being cost-effective in achieving the GFSC’s regulatory objectives, including promoting good business, protection of consumers and enhancing Gibraltar’s reputation as a quality financial centre.”

The new and wider management team will continue with the GFSC’s stakeholder engagement initiative both locally and internationally to ensure a positive climate for the benefit of Gibraltar’s financial services industry.

Have a good week.