Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Poland vows solution to judicial crisis

  • Poland's prime minister and the European commission's vice president spoke of a constructive dialogue. (Photo: Kancelaria Premiera)

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo has said that she has found ways to end the country’s judicial crisis, in a move that has stopped the European Commission from publishing a critical report rule of law in the country.

"We agreed that Poland must solve the dispute on its own," she said at a press conference after meeting with a the commission's vice-president, Frans Timmermans, in Warsaw on Tuesday (24 May).

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The Polish government’s attempt to reform the constitutional tribunal and appoint loyalist judges had earlier this year prompted the EU executive to launch a unique EU investigation into the rule of law in a member state.

Last week, the commission said it was ready to publish a report into the affair on Monday if Poland didn’t solve the problems.

The statement provoked public outrage in Warsaw, but also stimulated discussion behind closed doors.

In the end, Timmermans postponed his report and went to Warsaw to meet the Polish leaders instead.

He hailed the prime minister’s will to hold a dialogue with the EU and said he would do anything to find a way to end the conflict.

”I agree with you, prime minister, that this is an internal Polish problem that can only be solved at the Polish level,” he said at Tuesday’s press conference.

”But it’s the EU's interest to find a solution, because fully functioning member states are necessary for the proper functioning of the union, and that includes a functioning rule of law,” he said.

The commission would support ”all sides” in the conflict, he announced.

The prime minister said there was broad willingness in the Polish parliament - where Szydlo’s party holds the majority of seats - to endorse the solutions she proposed.

Neither of them went into detail on the nature of these solutions, however.

The press conference lasted just seven minutes and journalists were not allowed to ask questions.

Timmermans will report back to his colleagues during their weekly meeting on Wednesday (25 May). But it’s not sure whether the college will, the same day, also adopt his report on Poland.

A commission spokesperson said earlier on Tuesday that would be unlikely to happen in the absence of president Jean-Claude Juncker, who is travelling to Japan for a summit of G7 leaders.

The report, which may be updated with the Polish government’s promises, could be adopted next Wednesday (1 June) or not at all.

The commission is meant to guarantee respect for fundamental values in the EU.

But its scrutiny of Poland - the first of its kind - raised criticism from ruling Law and Justice, which recently passed a parliamentary resolution to underline that Poland is a sovereign country.

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