EP Resolution on Poland: "Systemic risk to the rule of law": European parliament resolution seeks to put more pressure on Poland

14:58 Sep. 14, 2016

"Systemic risk to the rule of law": European parliament resolution seeks to put more pressure on Poland

Flags of the European Union fly outside the European Parliament on May 11, 2016 (Getty Images)

MEPs again call on Warsaw to respect country's Constitutional Court, freedom of press, and fundamental human rights

European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling on the Polish government to solve the country's constitutional crisis within the three-month deadline set by the European Commission on 27 July

Since coming to power almost a year ago, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has passed a law, that limits the powers of the Constitutional Tribunal, and appointed five judges, ignoring the three judges who had been nominated by the previous Polish parliament.

Some of the tribunal's decisions have not been published by Poland's official journal, while the new law on the constitutional tribunal adopted in July raised concerns about how the tribunal will be able to function effectively.

Recent developments in Poland and how they affect fundamental rights were debated in the European Parliament on 13 September. While some MEPs criticised Polish authorities for controversial reforms affecting the country's constitutional tribunal, others insisted on respecting decisions taken by the democratically-elected government.

The situation remains unchanged since the previous resolution was voted in April, First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday. "At this stage, the dispute concerning the composition and the judgments of the constitutional of the tribunal remains unresolved," he said.

On Wednesday 14 September, MEPs voted a non-binding resolution, which seeks to draw attention to the Polish government's ongoing efforts to restructure the constitutional tribunal and to other unresolved issues, mainly regarding the publication of the tribunal's ruling.

"The paralysis of the Constitutional Tribunal and the refusal of the Polish Government to publish all its judgments "endanger democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law in Poland", MEPs said in the resolution, passed by 510 votes to 160 with 29 abstentions.

Besides the constitutional crisis, Parliament said it was also concerned about "the recent rapid legislative developments" in other areas in relation, in particular, to: independence and impartiality of public service media, right to freedom of expression, right to privacy, procedural rights as well as the fundamental right to a fair trial, political impartiality of the country's administration, and fundamental human rights, including women rights.

Tensions between Warsaw and Brussels have grown steadily since the Law and Justice party won the elections, introducing a Eurosceptic tone to foreign policy, defying Brussels and Berlin on migration and carrying out changes at home that critics say threaten the rule of law.

The PiS government says it has a strong public mandate to carry out reforms and accuses the main opposition, the pro-EU Civic Platform (PO), of undermining its own country abroad.

Based on reporting by Reuters, European Parliament Press Service 

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