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POLITICS

Spain postpones its EuroMed summit as PM still has Covid

A summit grouping nine southern European countries that was due to take place in Alicante on Friday has been postponed because Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has continued to test positive for Covid-19, his office said Thursday.

SPAIN-SANCHEZ-COVID
Sánchez tested positive several days after flying back from the UN General Assembly in New York. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

The EuroMed 9, which groups Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, was to have gathered in the southeastern city of Alicante on September 30th.

Sánchez, who was to host the summit, had on Sunday confirmed having Covid, and by Thursday he was still testing positive, his office said.

“This morning, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez took a diagnostic test and was still positive for Covid-19,” it said.

“As a precaution, the decision has been taken to postpone the MED-9 summit which was going to be held in Alicante tomorrow.”

It did not give a new date for the summit.

Sánchez tested positive several days after flying back from the UN General Assembly in New York.

He has since suspended much of his agenda but has continued attending events online.

Nine heads of state and government had been due to attend Friday’s summit, among them French President Emmanuel Macron and outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU council President Charles Michel were also due to attend for a summit focused on the energy crisis facing Europe as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The EuroMed group was created in 2016 to strengthen the cooperation between Mediterranean and southern EU member states.

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POLITICS

Spanish government to alter sexual consent law to fix loopholes

Spain's leftwing government said Monday it was looking to modify a landmark law to fight sexual violence to close a loophole that has let some convicted offenders reduce their sentences.

Spanish government to alter sexual consent law to fix loopholes

The controversy erupted in November barely six weeks after the “Only yes means yes” law came into force which reformed the criminal code in a bid to define all non-consensual sex as rape.

“We are working on a technical level.. to make some adjustments to this law, which we’re proud of but which actually has some undesired effects we’re going to try to limit with these modifications,” government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez told public radio.

The aim was to shift the focus in cases of sexual violence from the victims’ resistance to a women’s free and clearly expressed consent.

To this end, the charge of sexual abuse was dropped and everything was grouped under sexual assault, with the range of penalties widened to include all possibilities under that single term.

READ ALSO: How Spain is trying to fix its new trouble-ridden sexual consent law

The law effectively reduces the minimum and the maximum punishment in some specific cases with hundreds applying to have their sentences revised.

Rodríguez’s remarks confirmed weekend reports the government was mulling changes, hiking tensions between Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists and hard-left junior coalition partner Podemos, which has championed the legislation.

The right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP) quickly moved to offer parliamentary support if the Socialists wanted to make the changes without the support of Podemos.

But the offer infuriated Podemos with Equality Minister Irene Montero saying it would effectively return the law to what it was beforehand, and vowing she would do “whatever necessary” to ensure consent was kept at the centre.

“We will protect the essence of the ‘only yes means yes’ law… and keep consent at the very heart of it,” she told a party gathering on Sunday.

“We will do whatever necessary to protect women and feminist achievements against the likes of the Popular Party who want to take us backward after the greatest advance in 20 years in the fight against sexist violence.”

Since the law came into force, around 20 offenders have been released and some 300 others have seen their sentences reduced, media reports said.

Until now, rape victims had needed to prove they were subjected to violence or intimidation. Without that, the offence was considered “sexual abuse” and carried lighter penalties than rape.

With “sexual abuse” dropped from the reformed criminal code and a much wider range of offences grouped under “sexual assault”, a broader range of penalties was required to ensure proportionality.

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