Thursday

19th Sep 2019

EU steps up infringement case against Poland

  • EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans (l) and Polish PM Beata Szydlo (r). The EU executive is asking Poland to modify its judicial reforms. (Photo: Polish Prime Minister's Office)

The European Commission has taken a new step in its action against Poland over the rule of law in the country.

On Tuesday (12 September), the EU executive decided to send a so-called reasoned opinion to the Polish government.

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

This is the second step in an infringement procedure that the commission launched in July over a reform of the judiciary.

The commission said that the law, which was introduced in July, is discriminatory because it sets different retirement ages for men and women - respectively 65 and 60. It said the measure was contrary to the EU treaty and a directive on gender equality in employment.

It also said it was concerned by a provision that gives the Polish justice minister the power to extend the mandate of judges who have reached retirement age, and to dismiss and appoint court presidents.

Poland's government answered the commission at the end of August, but its reply hasn't been considered satisfactory.

If the Polish government fails to address the commission's renewed concerns within a month, the commission will have the right to bring the case to the EU Court of Justice.

The reform in question was part of a set of laws that put the Polish justice system under the control of the government.

The new legislation led the commission to send recommendations to the Polish government as part of a rule of law procedure launched in January 2016.

The infringement procedure on gender discrimination and on how the minister can prolong or dismiss judges, however, is distinct from the rule of law procedure.

At the end of August, the Polish government said that the commission's remarks over the judiciary reforms were "groundless".

But the commission is still considering whether to trigger Article 7, a sanction procedure that could lead to the suspension of Poland's voting rights in the Council of the EU, where national ministers meet.

The situation in Poland will be discussed by EU ministers on 25 September.

Article 7 not mentioned in Poland probe update

While Polish president Andrzej Duda proposes amendments to further increase political control over the judiciary, EU ministers voice support for the rule of law, but make no mention of the Article 7 sanctions.

MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad

MEPs urged Poland to comply with the EU treaties and to halt the 'reform' of the judiciary that could further undermine the rule of law in the country. Polish PM Beata Szydlo called the vote 'outrageous'.

News in Brief

  1. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  2. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  3. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  4. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan
  5. Minsk talks bode ill for EU's peace summit on Ukraine
  6. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  7. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  8. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  2. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  3. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  4. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  5. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  6. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  7. A new Commission for the one percent
  8. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us