EU ends rule of law against Poland

The Article 7 procedure was launched in 2017 due to judicial reforms by the then right-wing nationalist Polish government. There is no longer any threat to the rule of law in Poland.

The European Commission announced in Brussels on Wednesday that it was closing an Article 7 proceeding against Poland for violating the law. The commission said earlier this month it had completed its review and concluded there was no longer any risk. The majority of responsible European ministers also raised no objections last week.

The proceedings were launched in 2017 due to judicial reforms by the then right-wing nationalist Polish government. After reviewing recent reforms implemented and planned to be implemented by the new, pro-European Polish government under Donald Tusk, the Commission proposed to close the practice. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders cited measures to restore the independence of the justice system as an example. At last week’s ministerial meeting, only Hungary raised objections to the moratorium. Hungary is now the last country against which Article 7 proceedings are underway.

Concerns about judicial independence were addressed

Poland has taken several legislative and non-legislative measures to address concerns about the independence of the judiciary, the commission said in a statement on Wednesday. The country recognized the primacy of EU law and wanted to implement all judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights regarding the rule of law.

“Today is an important day for the rule of law in Poland and the EU. “We will continue to work with the Polish authorities to support their efforts to improve the rule of law,” said the commission’s vice-president, Vera Jurova. Last week, she stressed that Poland would no longer be monitored as the measures were suspended. She cited, for example, the EU Commission’s annual report on the rule of law. The next is due to be published in early July is planned.

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Edstatler is also in favor of stopping the proceedings

Europe Minister Caroline Edstatler (ÖVP) also spoke clearly in favor of stopping the measures and emphasized Poland’s progress. He cited the country’s accession to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office as an example. Poland’s representatives had already presented an action plan with measures on European affairs to EU ministers at a meeting in Brussels in February.

In 2017, Poland was the first country where the EU Commission initiated Article 7 proceedings. The process could lead to the suspension of EU membership rights, such as the withdrawal of voting rights in councils of ministers. The current Belgian Presidency originally planned not to deal with Article 7 cases against Poland and Hungary until the end of June. According to EU diplomats, he wanted to give Warsaw enough time to make the necessary reforms. Now only Hungary is on the agenda. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been accused of curbing the independence of the judiciary and freedom of expression and encouraging corruption.

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