EU ministers gathered on 18 October within the framework of General Affairs Council to discuss the situation regarding the rule of law in Poland. The ministers addressed changes to the disciplinary regime applicable to Polish judges undertaken by the Polish authorities.
The government’s failure to fulfil the basic conditions of the European Commission has already resulted in the suspension of the Recovery Fund for Poland. In addition, earlier this week, the Commission confirmed withholding further billions of euros in Polish cohesion funds.
Adam Szłapka MP, leader of Nowoczesna commented:
“PiS is fully responsible for the conflict with European institutions, and this is the PiS government’s deliberate action. They want Poland to move away from the EU. By provoking European institutions to withhold funds for Poland, they are aiming to discourage Poles from supporting the EU.
Today, Polish people cannot imagine Poland without the EU, but PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński can. Without the EU, Poland will be less safe and poorer, but it will be easier for right-wing populists to control all internal processes. And Kaczyński dreams only of unlimited power for himself.
By escalating this situation, PiS is stealing the money of all Polish people. And for theft there is punishment. The responsible ones will be sentenced by independent courts.
They only hope for Poland to get back on the European track, to once again become an important EU Member State which takes responsibility for the future of integration, is to deprive PiS of their power. This will happen next year in the national democratic elections. A new democratic government with liberals onboard would recover all the money due to Polish people.”
Szłapka emphasized that those responsible for the loss of funds, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, will face charges in the future based on art. 129 of the constitution of Poland that states that government officials acting to the detriment of the Republic of Poland may be punishable by imprisonment up to 10 years.
The procedure concerning Poland was launched in 2017 when the Commission issued its opinion on the rule of law in the country following a series of changes to the judicial system. Main issues holding up the disbursement of funds are the need for Poland to reinstate judges suspended by the disciplinary chamber created by the government and to guarantee the right of judges to refer questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Věra Jourová, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, thanked the General Affairs Council for discussing the rule of law in Poland.
“Thank you to the Czech Presidency of the EU Council for adding Article 7 procedure regarding Poland on the General Affairs Council agenda. Number of important changes were brought, but list of concerns remains. We need to continue working hard to solve them.”
Thank you @EU2022_CZ for adding Article 7 procedure regarding 🇵🇱 on the #GAC agenda.— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) October 18, 2022
Number of important changes were brought, but list of concerns remains.
We need to continue working hard to solve them. #RuleOfLaw
The ongoing rule of law situation in Poland was discussed during the 2022 ALDE Party Congresss. The liberal delegates from across Europe passed the resolution “Towards an enhanced European rule of law” calling the European Commission not to disburse any funds to Poland before all rulings of the European Court of Justice have been fully implemented.
Photo credit: Adam Szłapka, 2022.