European Interest

European Commission acts on Poland

Flickr/Eoghan OLionnain/CC BY-SA 2.0
A view of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Commission.

The European Commission on December 20 concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland. Now it’s up to the Council to decide whether to adopt a decision under article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union.

According to the Commission’s Reasoned Proposal, judicial reforms in Poland mean that the country’s judiciary is now under the political control of the ruling majority. In the absence of judicial independence, serious questions are raised about the effective application of EU law, from the protection of investments to the mutual recognition of decisions in areas as diverse as child custody disputes or the execution of European Arrest Warrants.

The Commission also issued a complementary Rule of Law Recommendation (the fourth since July 2016), setting out clearly the steps that the Polish authorities can take to remedy the current situation. If Poland implements the recommended actions, the Commission can reconsider its Reasoned Proposal.

In its Reasoned Proposal for a Council decision, the Commission notes that Polish authorities have adopted more than 13 laws affecting the entire judicial system in Poland. It said there is a common pattern: the executive and legislative branches have been systematically enabled to politically interfere in the composition, powers, administration and functioning of the judicial branch.

The Reasoned Proposal also sets out the Commission’s concerns, recalling the steps taken under the Rule of Law Framework and the numerous contacts with the Polish authorities to try to identify a solution, and invites the Council to find that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law. The concerns relate specifically to the lack of an independent and legitimate constitutional review and judicial independence.

Explore more