Monday

20th Nov 2017

European experts to probe Polish police law

The Venice Commission is travelling to Poland again.

The commission, a body of experts on constitutional law from the human rights watchdog Council of Europe, will visit on Thursday and Friday (28 and 29 April) to gather information on a police law adopted on 15 January.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The updated police law is known in Poland as the “act of surveillance”.

Critics say it gives the police too much access to read and record people’s phone and internet data, and even standard mail.

The police also get extended rights to record video and audio in buildings and on public transport. They do not have to inform those investigated or ask courts for authorisation.

Ombudsman Adam Bodnar, Poland’s official human rights defender, asked Poland’s constitutional court for an opinion.

The delegation will meet with parliamentarians as well as representatives of the prosecutor's office, the ministries of justice and home affairs, the ombudsman and NGOs.

Council of Europe spokesman Panos Kakaviatos said the visit was of a technical nature and would form the basis of an opinion to be discussed in June, at the Council’s next plenary session.

Judicial dispute

The Polish government, led by the right-wing Law and Justice Party, has already been criticised by the Venice Commission and European Commission over its attempts to overhaul the constitutional court.

The government tried to install loyalist judges and change the rules that govern the court's verdicts.

The constitutional court refused to recognise the reforms, and the government has said it will not publish its decisions in the legal gazette.

On Tuesday, Poland’s supreme court weighed into the debate on the side of the constitutional court, saying it will respect the court's judgments whether or not they are published in the gazette.

Supreme court spokesman Dariusz Swiecki said it was a cue for lower Polish courts to follow.

Law and Justice spokeswoman Beata Mazurek insisted that rulings were not valid unless they were published by the government.

She angered critics by saying that the supreme court’s statement was of little importance.

“In reality, it was a meeting of pals that defend the status quo of the previous powers”, she stated.

Law and Justice claimed the constitutional court needed to be reformed because it was filled with appointees from the previous government.

Dispute 'becoming a war'

Mazurek said the government would appoint a committee of experts to oversee another review of the law regulating the constitutional court. Her party claims this will solve the dispute around the court.

It remains unclear whether courts will follow the supreme court’s advice. It also failed to calm some of those who worry about the risk of a duality of laws in Poland.

Journalist Michal Szuldrzynski wrote in a comment in the Rzeczpospolita daily that the supreme court's intervention was well-meaning, but it would not change the fact that the government and parliamentary majority do not recognise the constitutional court’s judgments.

“It’s not the case that Law and Justice politicians lack arguments in this conflict,” he wrote.

“Some lawyers share their arguments, not only for political reasons. The substance is that this conflict is turning into a war … and this war is ruining the Polish state.”

Poland's constitutional dispute escalates

Activists have begun camping outside the prime minister's office in Warsaw after the government refused to recognise a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal.

Polish government promises constitutional reform

As Poland celebrates Constitution Day, the president says the current basic law should better reflect "modernity", amid a bitter fight over his party's attempts to reform the constitutional court.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

Austrian privacy case against Facebook hits legal snag

Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems may sue Facebook Ireland in an Austrian court but won't be able to pursue a class action suit in Austria, according to a non-binding opinion by a top EU court advisor.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. Decision day for EU agencies relocation race
  2. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  3. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  4. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  5. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  6. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  7. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  8. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin