Poland Remains in the Dock over Judiciary Changes

Poland Remains in the Dock over Judiciary Changes

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans left Warsaw after his meeting with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki this week without securing any concessions on planned judiciary reforms that the EU insists are against the rule of law.

Timmermans re-iterated EU demands that the Poles scrap plans to enforce a new retirement age of 65 on Supreme Court judges from July 3, a move which would force as many as four in ten of them to step down.

He said afterwards he hoped that “constructive dialogue to solve this problem will continue”.

The European Commission began Article 7 censure proceedings against Poland in December last year on the grounds that the reforms undermined the independence of the judiciary. That could lead to Poland’s EU voting rights being suspended, although the chances of that happening are low, as it would have to be endorsed by all EU member states and Hungary has indicated it would refuse to do so.

Ministers will hear a defense of the Polish Government plans at the EU’s General Affairs Council and the case will be discussed by the European Council of EU leaders at their summit next week.

The Commission is also expected to initiate a procedure to send Poland’s new Supreme Court law to the European Court of Justice and seek a suspension of the act.

Morawiecki told his supporters that he would not halt the plans, which the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) says is an essential modernising reform of the justice system.

The Poles have already amended some of their more controversial laws to address the EU’s concerns, but Timmermans insists these changes are not enough.

The Polish president’s chief of staff, Krzysztof Szczerski, told PAP: “This is one of the last chances for Frans Timmermans to end the dispute with Poland on the win-win basis. This is a chance for him, but he must show his will and remember the amendments to the reform of the judiciary, which we’ve carried out”.

(Banner image: Flickr )

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