Timmermans on rule of law in Poland: Concessions are still insufficient
Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans has urged Poland to formulate its full proposal to solve the dispute over the rule of law by mid-May, as previous concessions are considered as insufficient. EURACTIV Poland reports.
Polandâs rule of law was one of the main topics of the Luxembourg meeting of the Council of Ministers on Tuesday (17 April). Behind closed doors, Timmermans told the ministers that the formal reply of the Morawiecki government, issued in March as a âWhite Paperâ, did not solve any problems.
At the same time, he considered as a promising step the concessions proposed in the PiSâs parliamentary projects published before the Easter break.
Timmermans urges quick solutio n to Poland's court reform dispute
Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans on Monday (9 April) urged Poland to step up efforts at finding a solution to a high-pitched dispute over its controversial judicial reforms, denounced by Brussels as violating the rule of law.
The main concerns are the publication of three judgments of the Constitutional Tribunal in 2016 and the equalisation of the pension age of men and women.
Timmermans made clear that the steps taken so far by Poland are insufficient. He said they still do not dispel fears about the independence of Polandâs judiciary, as a witness of the meeting told EURACTIV.
Many other ministers spoke in a similar tone, which included the very vocal remarks from the Benelux, Sweden and Denmark. âWe are grateful for the cooperation between the Commission and Poland. But despite the progress, the results are not enough yet,â the German Minister of European Affairs, Michael Roth, said just before the meeting.
Breakthrough or grilling
The Council will return to the topic at its next meeting on 14 May. Timmermans told the ministers he would then present them with a full assessment of the concessions from Poland and propose conclusions.
âI am calling on the Polish authorities to treat this May date as a reference point. As a date, when both sides will be able to draw conclusions, to see if we have achieved what we should. And this will affect what next steps will be taken, and maybe those we will not have to take,â Timmermans added.
What is not said aloud is that this also concerns the decision of what to do next with the proceedings of the infringement procedure under Article 7, which the Commission initiated in December.
In the event of great progress in talks with Poland, the proceedings can be delayed or even closed. Otherwise, the EU Council could soon start â" as part of the unpleasant âgrillingâ of Warsa w â" to work on its own rule of law recommendations for the Morawiecki government.
Timmermans: The game is about what to let go
During the debate in Luxembourg, Timmermans distanced himself from the term âcompromiseâ and told the ministers that solutions are needed which would make Poland a country without a âsystemic threat to the rule of law.â
âYou can call it a âcompromiseâ or not. But it is about a settlement somewhere in the middle of the road between Warsaw and the expectations of Brussels. However, where exactly in the middle? What to let go? That is what the game is about,â he explained.
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European Court of Justice judges decided on Tuesday (17 April) that Polandâs logging activities in BiaÅowieÅ¼a Forest are against EU law and heavy fines are due to follow unless the government takes immediate action.
But what will PiS leader JarosÅaw KaczyÅski finally agree to? âWe still do not know,â another Western diplomat who participates in the EU Council meetings explained to EURACTIV.
Warsaw ârejects action under time pressureâ
Minister for European Affairs, Konrad SzymaÅski, assured journalists in Luxembourg that âthere is optimismâ but â" when asked about the May deadline â" denied the need to act âunder time pressureâ. However, during the meeting, he made clear that Poland is ready to make further concessions.
âThe latest declaration of the prime minister is known here,â he told reporters, referring to the statements by Mateusz Morawiecki that âa few further changes in the reform of the justice system will probably be introduced.â
SzymaÅski also commented on the allegation that European Council President and former Polish Prim e Minister Donald Tusk is not in favour of a settlement between Warsaw and the Commission.
âFor Donald Tusk, there is a difficult choice between the Polish raison dâÃ©tat and the political interest of his party,â SzymaÅski said, referring to the ruling PiS partyâs accusation that the Polish opposition is actually fueling the conflict with Brussels.
The article was published as part of a partnership with Gazeta Wyborcza.Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland