Tuesday

16th Jan 2018

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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

New Polish PM visits Hungary in snub to Brussels

In his first official bilateral visit since taking office, Poland's new prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki travels to Budapest, which vowed to defend Warsaw from any EU sanctions over its judicial reforms.

Magazine

Macron: Hegelian hero of EU history?

The election of the 39-year old newcomer injected new hope and dynamism. But the French president still has to find solid allies in the EU and deliver his ambitious agenda at home.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  3. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  4. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  5. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  6. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  7. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  8. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  10. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  11. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  12. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology

Latest News

  1. Fewer MEPs than visitors turn up for Estonian PM
  2. EU names China and Russia as top hackers
  3. Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises
  4. Brexit opens Pandora's Box on number of MEPs per country
  5. Romanian PM resigns in spat with convicted party leader
  6. Macron's Chinese 'game of influence'
  7. EU's 'old men' must pressure Poland on abortion rights
  8. Commission to float anti-'fake news' proposals in spring