Sunday

26th May 2019

Poland rejects 'groundless' EU complaint

  • Szydlo's government said Commission doubts were "groundless" and Macron was "arrogant" (Photo: European Council)

Poland has rejected a European Commission complaint on judicial reform, amid souring EU relations on many fronts.

“The legislative process which has the primary goal of reforming the justice system is in line with European standards and answers social expectations that have been growing for years,” the Polish foreign ministry said on Monday (28 August).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Commission vowed sanctions if supreme court law implemented (Photo: Darwinek)

“The Commission’s doubts are groundless,” it said.

It said it had sent a 12-page file of more “exhaustive” legal explanations to Brussels to back up its position.

It also said it was willing to enter into a "dialogue", but only if this was free of "political elements".

The Polish reaction came on the expiry of a one-month deadline issued by the Commission in July.

The Commission had asked Poland to justify four laws on the judiciary passed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party earlier this summer.

Two of these would give PiS control of supreme court appointments and of the National Council of the Judiciary, which regulates the profession.

The two others would give it control over the presidents of district and appeals courts and over the National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution.

The Commission complaint was part of a “rule of law monitoring” process that could end in Poland having its voting rights suspended in the EU Council.

The process extends to the PiS party’s earlier reform of Poland’s constitutional court and its decision to ignore an EU court order to halt logging in a primeval forest.

The Commission has also launched two “infringement proceedings” against Poland that could end in EU fines.

One of them deals with alleged sexism in a judicial law on male and female judge’s retirement ages.

The other one is over Poland’s refusal to honour an EU Council vote on sharing asylum seekers with Greece and Italy.

Relations sour

Poland’s clashes with the EU institutions have soured bilateral relations.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that the situation in Warsaw was “serious”.

“We can’t say that [EU] member states have unlimited plurality. Rather, it has its limits at those points where fundamental democratic values might be infringed,” she said.

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo also had a prickly exchange with French president Emmanuel Macron last Friday.

Macron had said that Poland was “isolating itself” in the EU and that PiS was “in conflict with” EU values.

Szydlo said Macron’s “arrogant comments” were a sign of his “lack of political experience”.

She also insinuated that France’s participation in EU migrant quotas had led to terrorist attacks there.

“I advise the president to take care of the affairs of his own country. Perhaps then he will be able to achieve the same economic results and the same level of citizens’ security that is guaranteed in Poland,” she said.

Polish workers

Macron’s remarks came amid France’s push to limit the EU rights of temporary workers from Poland and other central European states.

PiS ministers have in the past used even more colourful language in their EU rebuttals.

They accused the Commission of “blackmail” and “playing God” back in July. They also said Polish courts must be reformed due to corruption and maladministration.

"There is a question mark over Poland's European future today," European Council chief and former Polish leader Donald Tusk said on 4 August.

Poland vows legal battle on migrant quotas

One minister accused Commission of putting a terrorist "noose around Europe's neck", as Poland vowed to see the EU in court on migrant relocations.

Orban vows to defend Poland from EU's 'inquisition'

The Hungarian leader called EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans an "inquisitor", allied with George Soros and the Brussels elite, and argued for the EU executive to stop being a political body.

News in Brief

  1. Former EU climate chief cheered by 40,000 activists in Denmark
  2. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  3. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  4. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  5. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  6. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  7. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  8. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today
  2. Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high
  3. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  4. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  5. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  6. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  7. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  8. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us