The European Commission launched a sanctions procedure against Poland because of a controversial judicial reform in the country. Warsaw took exactly a month to give official explanations on this subject
The European Commission building in Brussels
(Photo: Francois Lenoir / Reuters)
As stated in the statement of the European Commission (EC) published Saturday, July 29, on the website of the Commission, the European Commission sent Poland a letter with the official notification. In it the Commission asks in Warsaw for one month to answer it.
In particular, it States on the website of the EU, the main concern of the European Commission lies in the fact that in the Polish law provides for a different retirement age for women judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years). This, according to EK, is discrimination based on sex.
Another dissatisfaction of the EC is due to the fact that the bill the Minister of justice is entitled to extend the mandate of the judges who have reached retirement age, and to dismiss and appoint the presidents of courts, which casts doubt on the independence of the Polish courts.
The report also says that the first Vice-President of the EC Frans Timmermans has also sent a letter to the Minister of foreign Affairs of Poland, which again sent him to the Minister of justice of Poland invitation to come to Brussels as soon as possible to resume the dialogue.
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The EC letter with the official notification, which contains a request to respond within a month, — the first stage of the sanctions procedure. In the second phase, the EC should examine the response of Warsaw, if any, will follow, and issue a reasoned opinion. The same thing will follow, in case Poland does not respond in the allotted time by the Commission.
On 22 July, the Polish Senate approved a bill to reform the Supreme court. It involves the resignation of all sitting judges of the Supreme court of Poland on the day following the entry into force of the law. Some judges can stay in office, but only by decision of the Minister of justice with the authority to make exceptions to the rule. The Minister will also be able to initiate the resignation and to appoint Supreme court judges. The process of resignation will be launched upon decision of the Parliament.
The adoption of the amendments led to mass protests across the country. The protesters opposed the “anti-constitutional reform.” The EU in turn has threatened Warsaw with sanctions involving the deprivation of the country the right to vote in the EU Council. On 24 July the President of Poland Andrzej Duda announced that he will veto two of the three draft laws on judicial reform.
As specified in the report of the European Commission, the sanctions procedure was launched in connection with the official publication on 28 July in Poland of the act on Common courts.