In Poland, the highest court has ruled that no new lawsuits will be accepted for the time being. The decision follows strong criticism from the European Commission. He believes that the judiciary in Poland is not independent and demands adjustments.
Recently, the so-called disciplinary chamber was established in Poland. This was done by the Polish nationalist ruling party PiS, which has had an absolute majority since 2015. The Disciplinary Chamber reviews judges’ verdicts on ‘ethical conduct’ and can fine, demote or dismiss judges. Because the members of that disciplinary chamber are indirectly selected by parliament, dominated by the ruling party PiS, the judiciary as a whole cannot function independently, says the European Court.
There has been a struggle between Brussels and Warsaw for some time. Our Eastern Europe correspondent Jeroen Akkermans: “There has always been a political influence, so also under the previous Liberal government, but under the leadership of Jaroslaw Kaczyński and his party, the political grip on the judiciary and judges has become much stronger power has come; there is no brake anymore. According to Brussels, this is a worrying development for the independence of the judiciary.”
In the meantime, according to Akkermans, discord has arisen in society. The group that votes for the conservative and nationalist PiS and the opponents of the party. You saw the rift across society in the presidential election, narrowly won by the PiS candidate last year or by introducing an anti-abortion law. The same applies to the establishment of LGBT-free zones. Criticism and protest from the population are increasing, but the PiS government is still pulling strings.
With the suspension of the lawsuits, Poland seems to be giving in somewhat to pressure from Europe. But that doesn’t mean the conflict is over. At the end of August, a Polish high court will decide whether or not European law takes precedence over Polish law. Akkermans: “All member states must comply with European legislation. Then it cannot be the case that Poland puts itself above European law. Moreover, Poland is one of the largest net recipients of European funds.
Prime Minister Rutte recently suggested that Hungary be expelled from the EU because of the introduction of an anti-gay law. “It will not come to that with Poland for the time being,” says Akkermans. “But sanctions can be imposed if Poland continues to obstruct. It almost has to be; otherwise, the EU will lose its credibility. The crucial question is: which case law is binding, that of the EU or Poland? You cannot compromise on that. Close.”