Politico: EU ministers will hold a hearing on Poland’s alleged rule-of-law violations later this month, pushing forward with a disciplinary process that Warsaw insists is unjustified.
The decision by EU diplomats to press forward with a hearing, as requested by the European Commission, shows that Brussels does not believe the Polish government has done enough to ensure the independence of the country’s judiciary.
An initial hearing on the rule-of-law issue will be held during a meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC) on June 26, and “will be focused on the most urgent issues identified by the Commission,” said Genoveva Chervenakova, a spokeswoman for the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU. “Most of the member states supported the request by the Commission” for a hearing, Chervenakova said.
In December, the Commission triggered a disciplinary proceeding under Article 7 of the EU treaty for what it considered “systemic threats” to the independence of the Polish courts. The key concerns focused on the Polish government’s ability to remove up to 40 percent of the Supreme Court’s judges and the justice minister’s power to discipline judges. Separately, the Commission has sought redress through the European Court of Justice.
Among the most urgent matters for Brussels is the law on the Supreme Court, which is set to take effect on July 3. Poland has insisted that the changes to its judiciary are legal, and a domestic matter on which the EU should not interfere.
Theoretically, a country found guilty of an Article 7 violation can have its EU voting rights suspended, but such a decision requires unanimity of the other EU nations. Hungary, an ally of Poland, has long vowed to block the Article 7 process should it reach that point.