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Polish gov't to 'end cooperation' with Venice Commission?

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 16.10.2016 12:13
The Polish government has indicated it wants to end cooperation with the Venice Commission in relation to an escalating crisis related to the Constitutional Tribunal, said the public TVP broadcaster.
The HQ of the Constitutional Tribunal. Photo. Wikimedia CommonsThe HQ of the Constitutional Tribunal. Photo. Wikimedia Commons

TVP said that the government led by Prime Minister Beata Szydło “does not want the Venice Commission to continue dealing with the dispute of the Constitutional Tribunal”.

In a document sent to Venice, the Polish authorities accuse the Commission of “bias” and “unreliability”.

“Despite the non-binding nature of the opinion, we should consider how much the authority the Venice Commission has to determine the constitutional standards of – and interfering in – the internal affairs of member states, and [expect] the demands in its recommendations to be implemented,” read the document quoted by TVP .

A recent opinion released by the Venice Commission said a July law on Poland’s highest court could “possibly make its work ineffective, as well as undermine its independence.”

'Riddled with errors'

Commenting on the report, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said that Poland has “not been given an objective assessment”.

“What we've been given was a report, and now another report that's very one-sided and riddled with errors; it mixes up Polish institutions. It presents only one narrative, that of the opposition or the Constitutional Tribunal. So we've concluded that there's no point in continuing dialogue with the Commission,” Waszczykowski said.

“The Commission does not issue judgements but opinions, which have no binding legal force,” he added.

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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