Yesterday, November the 6th, Commissioner Timmermans announced that Poland did not respond positively to the letters from the European Union asking for a change on Justice Reform bill. For the EU, it seems very dangerous what is happening in Poland, as a reform of justice endangers the rule of law and the separation of powers, which are the founding values of the European institutions.
“Four laws adopted by parliament would have a very significant negative impact on the independence of the Polish judiciary and would increase the systemic threat to the rule of law,” Timmermans told MEPs of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE).
In July, the Polish government approved a bundle of reforms that narrowed the independence of judges. The reform of the ruling “Law and Justice” party at first gave to the majority in the Parliament the power to elect almost all (22 out of 25) the officials of the Polish National Judicial Council, the body responsible for managing the judges’ careers. Then it took away the power of the National Judicial Council to appoint judges from the Supreme Court who had called unconstitutional the justice reforms approved at the beginning of the mandate. Finally, it approved a measure to remove all the current 87 judges of the Court, reducing the number to 31.
Despite attempts to find a compromise between the Duda’s government and the Brussels demands, an acceptable mediation has not yet come. After more than four months after the first proposal, the reforms undertaken by the Polish government continue to state that it is a political initiative to appoint judges and thus to control the judicial power.
The only political tool available to Brussels would be Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union. Warsaw may lose its right to vote in the Council and the use of European funds, thanks to which Poland has built up its economic growth. To begin the procedure however, it requires the unanimity in the European Council, between the heads of state and government of the other 27 member states which have to vote. And Poland has an ally who will surely use its veto power. A member state that is heading in the same nationalistic and authoritarian direction: Hungary.
The positions remain cold and distant, and if Commissioner Timmermans talked about the “serious threat” posed by the Polish reform, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, a PiS MEP, said that the Commission is “building a false picture of Poland.”
For further information:
Bulletin Quotidien Europe 11898