Committee on European Affairs: Europe might need to address a very complicated issue
Press release, 18 January 2018
On 17 January 2018, the Seimas Committee on European Affairs deliberated the Commission action on the rule of law in Poland.
In November 2015, the Commission became aware of an ongoing dispute in Poland concerning in particular the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal, as well as the shortening of the mandates of its current President and Vice-President. In order to solve the uncertainties, the European Commission asked Poland for clarification. During the exchange of correspondence between the Commission and Poland, Poland continued to reform its judiciary.
On 27 July 2016, the European Commission issued its first Recommendation regarding the rule of law in Poland thereby stating that the reform posed a systemic threat to the rule of law and recommended that the Polish authorities take appropriate action to remedy the current situation. On 21 December 2016 and 26 July 2017, the European Commission issued two more recommendations of a similar character.
In the light of the lack of improvements in Poland, on 20 December 2017, the European Commission proposed to the Council to adopt a decision under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union and to determine that there was a clear risk of a serious breach by Poland of the common values, in particular rule of law. The European Commission also referred the Polish Government to the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the provisions of the Law on the Ordinary Courts introducing a different retirement age for female judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years). Furthermore, on 20 December 2017, the Commission adopted the fourth rule-of-law recommendation setting out clearly the steps that the Polish authorities can take to remedy the current situation. If the Polish authorities implemented the recommended actions, the Commission was ready to reconsider its Reasoned Proposal.
H.E. Urszula Doroszewska, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Lithuania, took part in the Committee meeting and emphasised Poland’s adherence to the rule of law and stressed that Poland wished to strengthen the rule of law and not to violate. Moreover, the Ambassador informed that an updated position of Poland would be presented in the nearest future. Ms Doroszewska expressed hope that Lithuania would support this position.
Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Vilnius, another invitee to the meeting, noted that the European Commission was not willing to undertake any sanctions against a Member State but rather remained open to dialogue with Poland. He also pointed out that 95% of Poles support the EU; Polish citizens therefore hope that it would be possible to find a solution.
Having heard the positions, the Committee on European Affairs discussed the unprecedented situation that Europe was facing. Members of the Committee were convinced that every Member State of the EU had its sovereign right to improve its legal system in line with the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Members of the Committee hope that the European Commission and Poland will exploit all the opportunities for dialogue to find solutions. The Committee decided to revisit this important issue in the future.
Office of the Committee on European Affairs, tel. +370 5 239 6761
Last updated on 01/19/2018