Poland takes leaf out of Juncker’s book in Brussels battle

In an effort to stave off EU censure, Poland’s prime minister on Thursday took a leaf out of Jean-Claude Juncker’s book — almost literally.

Mateusz Morawiecki presented the European Commission president with a 94-page “white book,” drawn up by his government, which seeks to show that Warsaw’s overhaul of the legal system does not undermine the rule of law — contrary to the view of the Commission, multiple EU member countries and civil society activists, who see the revamp as a power grab by the ruling Law and Justice party.

Warsaw’s effort to seize the initiative was reminiscent of a strategy deployed by Juncker himself last year, when he unveiled a white paper on EU reform that set the agenda for debate about the bloc’s future.

The move seems unlikely to change the Commission’s mind but it may at least buy Poland a little time in its battle with Brussels. Last December, the Commission took the unprecedented step of triggering the so-called Article 7 procedure — a legal process that can lead to the imposition of sanctions on an EU member country. The Commission gave Poland three months to address the problems it has identified.

Morawiecki claimed that the reforms boosted the independence of the judiciary.

The Polish government’s document argues that its judicial reforms meet EU standards and “are inspired by good practices of other member states.” It says its National Council of the Judiciary, for example, is elected in a manner very similar to one in Spain and states that in Germany “there is no such council at all.”

The Commission, by contrast, assessed that the reforms contravene Poland’s own constitution and EU law. It concluded there was a “clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law” in Poland.

But Morawiecki claimed in Brussels on Thursday that the government’s reforms boosted the independence of the judiciary.

“We believe that through this reform, we are significantly improving and strengthening independence and objectivity,” he told reporters.

Last week, members of the European Parliament voted by a large majority to support the Commission’s stance and called on the Council to “swiftly determine” whether Poland is at risk of a serious breach of EU law.

Since Morawiecki — a smooth media performer — became prime minister late last year, Warsaw has shown a greater willingness to engage in dialogue with Brussels. But its underlying message has remained the same — it won’t back down.

The Council could vote by a four-fifths majority that there is “a clear risk of a serious breach” of the EU’s core values.

Hoping for support from EU member governments, Morawiecki said he had sent the white book to all European capitals. “We will now in the next couple of weeks try to reach out to everybody who would like to talk to us,” he said.

The Article 7 process can ultimately lead to the suspension of a member country’s voting rights inside the EU. The chances of Poland facing this sanction are slim as all other EU countries would need to agree and Hungary, for one, has already said it would veto such a step.

However, the Council could vote by a four-fifths majority that there is “a clear risk of a serious breach” of the EU’s core values — which would be the first time it had ever passed such vote of censure against one of its own members.

Politico.eu

Facebook Comments

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

SuperWebTricks Loading...
error: Content is protected !!