Diplomats and officials in Warsaw and Brussels have confirmed that Poland has won some breathing space in its long-running battle with the European Union over the rule of law, pending the outcome of “sensitive talks”.
While the deputy head of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, will brief other EU member states on the state of play in relations with Poland on February 27, they will delay taking any action until after the March 20 deadline.
Poland’s conservative ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), is has been criticised by the European Commission for deliberately implementing judicial reforms to undermine democracy.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Poland is also at odds with the Commission over issues ranging from the conservation of an ancient forest to migration, but Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has adopted a more conciliatory tone toward the EU since taking over in December.
“It’s not that the Poles are completely off the hook. But there are sensitive talks going on and they need more time,” one EU diplomat said.
“They are on a charm offensive. It won’t be enough if it’s just words, there will have to be real moves from Poland. But for now we are waiting to see where it takes us.”
In December, the Commission said the EU should take legal action against Poland under Article 7 of the EU treaty. This could theoretically lead to the country losing its voting rights if it fails to reverse or modify its judicial reforms.
According to Reuters, Poland faces a March 20 deadline to respond to the Commission’s recommendations and Warsaw has now signalled it might make some conciliatory adjustments to its legislation.
Morawiecki’s government has also said it will respect the final ruling of the EU’s top court in a case against Poland over excessive logging in Europe’s last remaining primeval forest, Bialowieza.