Rule of Law in Poland (or lack thereof): 7 Questions for the Article 7 Hearing | View
By Laurent Pech and Patryk Wachowiec
Last December and for the very first time, the European Commission activated a provision of the European Treaties (Article 7 TEU) in relation to the rule of law situation in Poland. According to the Commission â" a diagnosis we fully agree with â" there was and still is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law by Polish authorities.
The activation of the âArticle 7 procedureâ â" also recently activated against Hungarian authorities by the European Parliament â" has been a long time in the coming. Indeed, it was preceded by the activation of the so-called âpre-Article 7 procedureâ in January 2016 as soon as the first evidence of a potential systemic threat to the rule of law emerged. This prompt action was however followed by months and months of procrastination notwithstanding the worsening situation in Poland. To give a concrete example, one may mention the Polish Presidentâs decision to appoint an âacting Presidentâ of the Constitutional Tribunal in obvious breach of the Polish Constitution. 48 hours later, this acting President became the President of the Tribunal on the basis of a process which the Commission described âas fundamentally flawed as regards the rule of lawâ.
Main steps since the activation of Article 7(1) mechanism
Faced with repeated instances of constitutional vandalism, the Commission finally accepted that it had no choice but to activate a mechanism which requires the referral of this matter to the Council of the EU. This was done, as noted above, on 20 December 2017. Initially anxious to find an informal way out of the conflict, the Council organised a total of four informal debates. This additional round of dialogue having gone (entirely predictably) no where, the Council finally accepted to fulfil its duties and organised the first formal hearing of Poland under Article 7(1) TEU. This formal hearing took place on 26 June 2018, at the end of which the following conclusion was offered:Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland