Saturday

19th Aug 2017

EU to shed more light on Poland's judicial crisis

  • Behind-closed-doors discussions between Poland and the commission failed to find a solution to Poland's constitutional crisis (Photo: Polish Prime Minister's Office)

The European Commission on Thursday (18 August) granted a freedom of information request by Laurent Pech, a professor of European law at Middlesex University in London, to make public its opinion of 1 June on the rule of law in Poland.

The 18-page long text outlines the commission's concerns over the Polish government's attempt to stack Poland's constitutional tribunal with loyalist judges and its refusal to recognise the tribunal's rulings.

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.

It also explains commission unease over rules that would make it harder for the court to vet new laws.

It will be published later on Friday on a popular blog run by Steve Peers, a law professor at the University of Essex.

Pech’s first request for access was denied on the grounds that it “would affect the climate of mutual trust” between Polish authorities and the commission, which would “be required to enable them to find a solution and prevent the emergence of a systemic threat to the rule of law”.

But the professor said, in an appeal, that there was no evidence that keeping the opinion secret had helped to fulfil these goals.

He also said that the lack of publication prevented citizens, businesses and national authorities - as well as members of the Polish parliament - from holding their government accountable.

The Polish parliament, in July, passed a law on the constitutional tribunal without having seen the commission's opinion as it was still being kept secret by Brussels and by the Polish government at that time.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, a democracy watchdog, told this website it was surprising that the government had kept secret the opinion despite the legislative work in the parliament.

It also said civil society should have a bigger role in monitoring the debate and the implementation of any changes.

Three months deadline

The commission, on 27 July, also issued a list of recommendations to Poland which it did subsequently make public.

It gave Poland three months to solve the threats to the rule of law under pain of potential sanctions.

The Law and Justice government had vowed to solve the crisis through a bill reforming the court, which was rushed through parliament in July. But on Thursday (11 August), the tribunal ruled that the bill was partly unconstitutional , deepening the standoff.

The commission said on Tuesday (16 August) that the Polish government had solved some, but not all, of the problems by publishing most of the rulings of the constitutional court in Poland's legal gazette earlier this week. The EU executive noted, however, that the the two most controversial judgments - of 9 March and 11 August which both say that the government's efforts to reform the court are unconstitutional - must also be published.

On Friday, Polish media reported that a prosecutor in Katowice, in southern Poland, last month initiated an investigation against the constitutional tribunal's president, Andrzej Rzeplinski, for not accepting three new judges appointed by Law and Justice to the court.

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.

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 tries to appease EU critics before Nato summit

The parliament passed a bill meant to address foreign critics on judicial reform. NGOs and opposition parties said it did not square with EU demands, but those demands are being kept secret, weakening their hand.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides