A commission of constitutional lawyers of the Europe criticizes the planned judicial reform of the national conservative government in Poland. The reform further undermines the independence of Polish judges. The so-called Venice Commission of the Council of Europe announced in an urgent statement that the planned discipline law curtailed the freedom of expression and association of judges, among other things.
The group of experts from the international community advises countries on the subject of constitutional law. It was activated by the Polish Senate, in which the opposition has the majority.
An "impossible situation"
Among other things, the ruling party PiS's plan provides that judges may face fines, downgrading or dismissal in the future if they question the legality or decision-making powers of another judge, a court or a chamber. The responsible EU Commissioner Vera Jourova also had Poland recently asked not to implement the project. The government sticks to this, however.
The Venice Commission now said that the proposed law would put judges in an "impossible situation". They face disciplinary proceedings for decisions that are required on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights or EU law.
The constitutional experts also take a critical view that the planned reform reduces the participation of judges in the administration of justice and the influence of the Minister of Justice increases. The parliament in Warsaw should not pass the law, the constitutional experts recommended. Since that PiS It came to power in Poland in 2015 and massively restructured the judiciary.
SPD European politician Katarina Barley called the report "another constitutional declaration of bankruptcy to the PiS government". Once again it was a European institution that denounced the erosion of the rule of law in Poland.
The European Parliament also increased pressure on Poland and Hungary. Both countries are under Article 7 of the EU treaty for alleged violations of EU core values. Ultimately, this means that a country's voting rights in the EU can be withdrawn. However, both processes have been stalling for some time.
The EU governments should now take a clear stance on the procedures, Parliament demanded in a resolution adopted by a large majority. It is regrettable that the previous hearings have not led to any significant progress.