Stand-by is the European Commission for triggering article 7 for Poland, “if anything goes wrong”. The country has one month to address the problems concerning the Rule of Law.
The European Commission substantiates its grave concerns on the planned reform of the judiciary in Poland in a Rule of Law Recommendation addressed to the Polish authorities. In the Commission’s assessment, this reform amplifies the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland already identified in the rule of law procedure started by the Commission in January 2016. The Commission requested the Polish authorities to address these problems within one month.
The Commission asked the Polish authorities notably not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges. If such a measure is taken, the Commission stands ready to immediately trigger the Article 7(1) procedure – a formal warning by the EU that can be issued by four fifths of the Member States in the Council of Ministers.
The Commission also decided to launch an infringement proceeding against Poland for breaches of EU law. The College will immediately send a Letter of Formal Notice once the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation is published. At the same time, the Commission recalls its offer to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Polish Government.
President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The Commission is determined to defend the rule of law in all our Member States as a fundamental principle on which our European Union is built. An independent judiciary is an essential precondition for membership in our Union. The EU can therefore not accept a system which allows dismissing judges at will. Independent courts are the basis of mutual trust between our Member States and our judicial systems. If the Polish government goes ahead with undermining the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland, we will have no other choice than to trigger Article 7.”
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans claimed that “Our Recommendations to the Polish authorities are clear. It is time to restore the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal and to either withdraw the laws reforming the judiciary or bring them in line with the Polish Constitution and with European standards on judicial independence. Polish courts like the courts of all Member States are called upon to provide an effective remedy in case of violations of EU law, in which case they act as the “judges of the Union” and must comply with the requirements of the independence of the judiciary in line with the Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We want to resolve these issues together in a constructive way. The Commission’s hand remains extended to the Polish authorities for dialogue, and we welcome any steps to amend these laws in line with our Recommendations.”/ΙΒΝΑ