Sunday

9th Dec 2018

Commission adopts Polish rule of law report

  • Frans Timmermans still believes in dialogue, but talks have yet to yield results. (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission has adopted an opinion concerning the rule of law in Poland, the latest step in a procedure launched in January over constitutional reforms.

The text was endorsed by the college of commissioners during their weekly meeting on Wednesday (1 June), but has not been made public.

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"Despite our best efforts, it has not been possible to find solutions to the issues at stake," said commission vice president Frans Timmermans, who is leading negotiations with the Polish government.

Poland’s government must reply to the commission’s concerns within ”reasonable time”. If they do not, or if they fail to answer the questions raised, the commission can issue recommendations - marking the second of three steps in the rule of law procedure.

Timmermans noted that rule of law must function, both because member states committed to uphold EU values at the time of their accession but also to enact the application of EU laws across the EU.

”The commission is acting for the sake of European citizens and companies,” he told journalists.

The commissioner has travelled to Poland on two occasions, and he has met prime minister Beata Szydlo. More than four months of talks have not yielded results.

Poland’s government has not overturned its reform of the constitutional court, which the court itself said was unconstitutional.

President Andrzej Duda has not sworn three judge-designates that were supposed to take up their jobs last December.

”I still see us in a process of dialogue,” Timmermans said.

”We haven’t reached a stage where the matter is closed but I hope we can get there very quickly. The sooner we solve this issue, the sooner Poland can take its full role as a leader member of the EU in very trying times for all of us.

"Poland is needed in the EU and should not be distracted by things I think can be solved internally in a relatively short period of time."

Analysis

EU still shy of 'nuclear option' on values

The EU commission has moved forward with its rule-of-law probe on Poland, but critics say that a better framework is needed to uphold values.

Poland vows solution to judicial crisis

Polish PM Szydlo and EU commissioner Timmermans appeared to mend fences in Warsaw. But neither would say how Poland will address concerns.

Poland questions legality of EU probe

On eve of potentially damning EU decision, Polish strongman Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said EU rule of law monitoring could be challenged in Luxembourg court.

Analysis

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Thousands of Poles will celebrate 27 years of freedom on Saturday by joining protests organised by KOD, the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, which wants to oust Kaczynski from power.

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Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, seen as championing similar policies to Angela Merkel, has won the CDU party leadership contest and is thus the frontrunner to become chancellor once Merkel leaves. But a split party will mean challenges.

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