Thursday

24th Aug 2017

EU confrontation with Poland escalates

  • Polish government said EU action is "premature" (Photo: Giuseppe Milo)

The European Commission has given Poland three months to take action to protect the rule of law in the country or else face possible sanctions.

EU commission vice-president Frans Timmermans on Wednesday (27 July) told reporters Polish authorities have failed to guarantee the independence of its courts.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

In a separate statement issued to the press, the commission said it "believes that there is a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland."

Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party last year refused to recognise rulings by the country's constitutional court and curtailed its powers. It had also attempted to fill it with judges of its own choosing after sacking five that had been appointed by the previous government.

The move has created a tense standoff between Poland and the commission ever since January.

The Brussels-executive had earlier highlighted the problems in an opinion, but it remained unsatisfied by the Polish response on Wednesday.

Poland on 22 July had adopted a new law on the constitutional tribunal in an effort to address the outstanding issues raised by the commission.

But a review of the new Polish law has failed to impress.

"Our conclusion is that the fundamental concerns are still unresolved. This new law did not address the threat to the rule of law in Poland," said Timmermans.

Timmermans said "integrity, stability, and proper functioning" of Poland's constitutional court remained at risk.

The commission also noted that issues such as the publication and implementation of the judgments and the swearing in of the judges remained unaddressed.

Poland, for its part, was not receptive to the criticism.

In a statement, Poland's ministry of foreign affairs described the commission's measures as "very premature."

"They put the EC at risk of losing its authority, which it needs to fulfil its functions as set out in the Treaties," it said.

Wednesday's recommendation is stage two in a three-step process that could lead to stripping Poland of its voting rights.

Should Poland fail to reform its law then the EU could launch the “article 7 procedure”, based on a passage in the EU treaty.

The procedure, which has never before been triggered, could lead to the suspension of Poland's voting rights in the Council.

Opinion

EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law

The situation in Poland shows that democracy, the rule of law and human rights do not speak for themselves. If the Union wants to safeguard its fundamental values, it must create support for them among Europeans.

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.

Opinion

Managing migration: a European responsibility

"The EU now needs to bring its weight to bear, to ensure non-EU countries cooperate on taking back their nationals arriving as economic migrants", writes migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

News in Brief

  1. Macron slams EU posted workers rules
  2. Germany asks EU to strengthen foreign takeover rules
  3. Poll shows tight race in Norway's upcoming elections
  4. Air Berlin insolvency talks begin amid 'stitch-up' accusation
  5. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  6. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  7. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  8. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference