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Venice Commission expects Polish opinion to be taken into account

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 15.10.2016 10:45
The Venice Commission has said that it expects the Polish government to take into account its report on the country's Constitutional Tribunal, the watchdog's chairman said on Friday.
108th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. Photo: Council of Europe108th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. Photo: Council of Europe

“We are impartial and apolitical,” said Gianni Buquicchio, the chairman of the Venice Commission, an advisory group to rights body the Council of Europe.

On Friday, the Commission said a July law on Poland’s highest court could “possibly make its work ineffective, as well as undermine its independence.”

In an interview with reporters after the adoption of opinion on the July bill, Buquicchio said that the current opinion is “less critical” than a previous one which was released in March.

“We recognise that there have been some efforts to improve the situation of the Constitutional Court,” he said.

“There have been some positive developments, but unfortunately this is not enough,” Buquicchio said, adding that “the accumulation of negative elements prevents the work of the Court”.

The session was not attended by Polish government representatives, who criticized the advisory body of the Council of Europe as “biased”, "dishonest" and "incompetent".

Warsaw has been locked in a simmering row with EU institutions and politicians who have accused Poland’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party of eroding democracy since coming to power last year.

PiS, which has pushed through sweeping legal and other reforms, has denied such charges.

It has argued it is unfair that a constitutional court with a majority of judges appointed under the previous parliament should be able to scupper flagship policies for which the party secured a mandate in democratic elections.

In its opinion, the Venice Commission said Poland’s new law “does not meet two essential standards of balance of power in government: the independence of the judiciary and the position of the constitutional court as the final arbiter in constitutional issues.” (rg)

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