"Situation is very serious". EU parliament discussed Poland's rule of law

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Vera Jourova says EU executive wants to open "new chapter" with Poland
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Vera Jourova says EU executive wants to open "new chapter" with Poland

The EU Commission still wants to be engaged in an open dialogue with Poland, but at the same it remains the guardian of the EU treaties - the EU executive deputy chief Vera Jourova said during a debate on Polish rule of law in Strasbourg. The motion to add the debate to the agenda was filed by the Renew Europe faction in reaction to the adoption of the so-called muzzle law in Poland.

The debate in Strasbourg was a result of the EU parliament resolution adopted in January, regarding the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, in the MEPs stressed the situation has deteriorated. The parliament called on the EU Commission and the Council of the European Union to use all available tools to eliminate the risk of violation of EU principles.

The first to speak on Tuesday was deputy head of the EU Commission Vera Jourova. "The Commission is concerned with the attack on the independence of judges" - she said. "The EU Commission still wants to be engaged in an open dialogue with Poland, but at the same it remains the guardian of the EU treaties" - Jourova added.

"This law, also referred to as a repressive act, is controversial. The Venice Commission has already said before that the judicial independence in Poland is under threat. We think there is a continuous threat to the rule of law in Poland" - stressed the deputy chief of EU executive.

She added that "the Commission wants to ensure respect for the EU law and will be taking all necessary measures".

Jourova stated that the latest developments in Poland indicated the situation was very serious.

MEPs from the European People's Party, Renew Europe, socialists and the Greens joined Jourova in criticism of the recently amended court laws that allow judges to be disciplined for opposing the reforms pushed through by the Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Vera Jourova during the debate on Polish rule of law
EBS

"Clearly political tone"

"Reforms of the justice system will continue. The implemented solutions are based on those functioning in other EU countries, but Poland is being refused the right of taking sovereign decisions" - said Poland's former PM Beata Szydło.

"For the last four years we've been forced to provide explanations for things that have been functioning in other EU countries for so long. We're explaining reforms implemented on the model of solutions used in other member states. Why is it so?" - PiS MEP asked.

She added the EU parliament should focus more on itself, rather than Poland. "Ask yourselves why Poland is criticised for solutions which you know from your own countries" - Beata Szydło told the EU parliament.

Former Polish PM also said she regretted that the EU parliament "speaks in a clearly political tone and openly calls for instrumental use of the rule of law".

"Polish system needs reforms. For four years the Polish government has been implementing such reforms - in line with the constitution, the EU treaties, and the will of Poles" - she stressed.

Law and Justice MEP and former Polish PM Beata Szydło
EBS

"Muzzle law" adopted

The so-called muzzle law would allow judges who criticise the government's reforms to be disciplined.

The ruling PiS party says the bill, which was rejected by the opposition-controlled Senate, is necessary to avoid chaos in the legal system, as some judges have started questioning the legality of the appointment of others.

But Brussels, human rights activists and lawyers believe the bill is designed to stop criticism of the government's wide-ranging reforms, which they say aim to increase government control over the judiciary.

Furthermore, the amendment introduces changes in the procedure of appointing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Each Supreme Court Justice will now have the right to put forward their own candidates for this position. In case of lack of quorum, in the last stage of the procedure, presence of 32 Justice would be enough to appoint the Chief Justice.

The new regulations have been strongly criticised by the opposition and many members of judicial circles, who had called on President Duda not to signed the bill.

Also among the critics of the new law was the European Commission, the Venice Commission, many judges from across Europe, as well as members of the U.S. Congress.

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Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP

Źródło zdjęcia głównego: PAP/EPA