Timmermans: Poland may reform the judiciary but must respect its independence

TVN24

tvn24Timmermans on Polish judiciary: I believe we will find the solution through dialogue

"I still hope. I will continue to hope that we will find a solution through dialogue. I strongly believe in dialogue," said the Deputy Chairman of the European Commission Frans Timmermans in an interview for TVN24 International reporter in Luxembourg, Michał Tracz.

"Unfortunately, we have not yet achieved the solutions that we're looking for. But I will continue to look for it, I will continue to look for answers that would respect the independence of the judiciary," said Timmermans.

"I do not challenge the right of the Polish government to reform the judiciary. However, in reforming the judiciary, you need to respect the separation of powers and the judiciary's independence," he added.

"We believe that measures against the Supreme Court do not respect in sufficient way the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers," Mr Timmermans pointed out.

Ongoing dispute

The head of Poland's Supreme Court said she has accepted an invitation for a meeting with President Andrzej Duda later on Tuesday, the last day before the ruling party's divisive judicial reform takes effect.

Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party is at loggerheads with the European Union over reforms that have allowed it to take de facto control over prosecutors, the constitutional tribunal, lower-level courts heads and a judges' oversight body.

The European Commission opened a fresh legal case against Poland on Monday over the changes to the Supreme Court, which it says will further undermine judicial independence in the largest ex-communist member of the bloc.

Under the measures due to come into effect at midnight on Tuesday, nearly 37 percent of Supreme Court judges will be forced to retire unless they are granted an extension by Duda, a PiS ally.

Meeting with president

He is expected to announce Supreme Court President Malgorzata Gersdorf's retirement date on Tuesday.

Gersdorf, an outspoken critic of the PiS and its reforms, said in a television interview broadcast on Tuesday that the presidential palace had invited her to a meeting with Duda at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT).

Chief Justice Małgorzata Gersdorf has been invited to the Presidential Palace on Tuesday
Marcin Białek/CC BY-SA 3.0

A supreme court spokesman confirmed Gersdorf had been invited and would attend the afternoon meeting with Duda, but said he did not know what the purpose of the meeting was.

The presidential palace press office confirmed the meeting.

Until 2020

Protests against PiS' judicial reforms under the slogan "In Defence of the Supreme Court" are expected in cities across Poland on Tuesday evening, according to organisers Komitet Obrony Demokracji (KOD).

On Wednesday, Supreme Court employees and judges are planning a protest outside the court at which Gersdorf will attempt to go to work as normal, according to the court's spokesman.

Gersdorf has said on many occasions that she would refuse to resign and that under Poland's constitution, she should stay in her post until 2020.

"I will not accept Mr President's letter about retiring. In my opinion I am a president (of the Supreme Court) until 2020," Gersdorf said told private television channel TVN24.

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24, Reuters