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EU Commission criticizes Poland

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 01.06.2016 12:30
The European Commission on Wednesday issued a report critical of the state of the rule of law in Poland under the country’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government.
Frans Timmermans. Photo: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLETFrans Timmermans. Photo: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

The European Commission opinion, criticizing Warsaw for lack of progress in resolving a deadlock over the country’s Constitutional Tribunal, is confidential and will be sent to the Polish government rather than be made public.

“Despite our best efforts, until now we have not been able to find solutions to the main issues at stake,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

'Surprised and saddened'

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said he was “surprised and saddened” at the move by Brussels, which follows a series of talks between senior EU officials and the government in Warsaw amid a constitutional crisis in Poland.

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, is believed to have given Warsaw two weeks to reply to its report.

If the commission is not satisfied with Poland’s proposals to resolve its ongoing constitutional crisis, it can move to the second stage of a so-called rule of law procedure and issue a set of recommendations, along with a deadline for Warsaw to implement them.

The process could lead to the EU imposing penalties on Warsaw, theoretically including the suspension of its voting rights in the EU Council.

But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said his country would veto any such move, which would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states.

In January, the European Commission said it was starting a "rule-of-law" probe into whether controversial laws pushed through by Law and Justice violate EU standards.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Timmermans said: "Let me be clear that the commission does not intend and does not wish to involve itself in a political debate in Poland. Political issues in Poland are the business of politicians in Poland.

"Our business is preserving the rule of law."


Poland has been locked in a political stalemate after the Law and Justice party, which came to power in October, introduced sweeping reforms to the Constitutional Tribunal and other institutions, prompting anti-government protests and criticism from abroad.

The tribunal has rejected PiS-backed changes to the way it functions. PiS, in turn, has refused to recognise that ruling by the tribunal, claiming it is invalid.

Critics say the PiS-backed changes were designed to paralyse the tribunal, which decides whether laws passed by parliament are in keeping with the Polish constitution.

PiS has argued it is unfair that a tribunal with a majority of judges appointed under the previous parliament should be able to scupper flagship policies for which Law and Justice secured a mandate in democratic elections. (pk)

Source: IAR/PAP/TVP Info

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