Saturday

24th Feb 2024

EU to shed more light on Poland's judicial crisis

  • Behind-closed-doors discussions between Poland and the commission failed to find a solution to Poland's constitutional crisis (Photo: Polish Prime Minister's Office)

The European Commission on Thursday (18 August) granted a freedom of information request by Laurent Pech, a professor of European law at Middlesex University in London, to make public its opinion of 1 June on the rule of law in Poland.

The 18-page long text outlines the commission's concerns over the Polish government's attempt to stack Poland's constitutional tribunal with loyalist judges and its refusal to recognise the tribunal's rulings.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It also explains commission unease over rules that would make it harder for the court to vet new laws.

It will be published later on Friday on a popular blog run by Steve Peers, a law professor at the University of Essex.

Pech’s first request for access was denied on the grounds that it “would affect the climate of mutual trust” between Polish authorities and the commission, which would “be required to enable them to find a solution and prevent the emergence of a systemic threat to the rule of law”.

But the professor said, in an appeal, that there was no evidence that keeping the opinion secret had helped to fulfil these goals.

He also said that the lack of publication prevented citizens, businesses and national authorities - as well as members of the Polish parliament - from holding their government accountable.

The Polish parliament, in July, passed a law on the constitutional tribunal without having seen the commission's opinion as it was still being kept secret by Brussels and by the Polish government at that time.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, a democracy watchdog, told this website it was surprising that the government had kept secret the opinion despite the legislative work in the parliament.

It also said civil society should have a bigger role in monitoring the debate and the implementation of any changes.

Three months deadline

The commission, on 27 July, also issued a list of recommendations to Poland which it did subsequently make public.

It gave Poland three months to solve the threats to the rule of law under pain of potential sanctions.

The Law and Justice government had vowed to solve the crisis through a bill reforming the court, which was rushed through parliament in July. But on Thursday (11 August), the tribunal ruled that the bill was partly unconstitutional , deepening the standoff.

The commission said on Tuesday (16 August) that the Polish government had solved some, but not all, of the problems by publishing most of the rulings of the constitutional court in Poland's legal gazette earlier this week. The EU executive noted, however, that the the two most controversial judgments - of 9 March and 11 August which both say that the government's efforts to reform the court are unconstitutional - must also be published.

On Friday, Polish media reported that a prosecutor in Katowice, in southern Poland, last month initiated an investigation against the constitutional tribunal's president, Andrzej Rzeplinski, for not accepting three new judges appointed by Law and Justice to the court.

Poland's constitutional crisis looms larger

The clock is ticking towards Poland's EU deadline to solve it's constitutional crisis, after the government's latest attempt to repair the situation was ruled unconstitutional by the country's constitutional court.

Analysis

EU still shy of 'nuclear option' on values

The EU commission has moved forward with its rule-of-law probe on Poland, but critics say that a better framework is needed to uphold values.

Poland tries to appease EU critics before Nato summit

The parliament passed a bill meant to address foreign critics on judicial reform. NGOs and opposition parties said it did not square with EU demands, but those demands are being kept secret, weakening their hand.

Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns

Germany is expanding agreements to return rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin as part of a wider shift in Europe to curtail migration. Berlin has reached deals with Georgia and Morocco since December.

Latest News

  1. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  2. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win
  3. EU paid Russia €420-per-capita for fossil fuels since war began
  4. After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports
  5. Creating the conditions for just peace in Ukraine
  6. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  7. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  8. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us