25th July 2017
In the latest in our Summer series of blogposts from our junior staff, Milos Pietor, Account Executive, writes about the latest developments in Poland with regard to the judiciary.
There is no doubting the seriousness of judicial reform happening in Poland at the current time.
The new legislature wants to grant the Government power to appoint 15 out of 22 judges in the National Council of the Judiciary, which is responsible for judicial ethics and appointing district and appeal court judges.
People across Poland are protesting against the new legislature - referred to as the “candlelight protest” - saying they are violating the rule of law.
Protests were targeted against the ruling party (PiS) and its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, accusing them of turning Poland into a ¨dictatorship¨.
The Polish Parliament is clearly not just undermining the separation of powers, but also breaching the principles of the EU treaties, which explains why the political opposition sees the EU institutions as the right body to turn to.
In the words of the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the EU is now closer to triggering the so-called “Article 7” procedure, which can lead to a suspension of voting rights within the Council.
The Polish Government, for its part, doesn’t see why the EU should get involved in the Polish legislative process.
Independent courts represent a key aspect of a stable and functioning rule of law. The violation of this key principle can result in instability and chaos, and thereby affect the business environment, since it jeopardises sound judicial process. Furthermore, the amount of publicity around this development could also put at risk new business development and future foreign investment within the country.
Andrzej Duda, the current President of Poland, has vetoed the controversial bills and sent them to the Supreme Court and the National Judiciary Council.
The Polish Parliament will have to approve both bills with a 3/5 majority (or 276 MPs), which is unlikely as the ruling party holds just 236 MPs and practically the whole opposition was against.
Whilst they vote, the EU watches and waits, hoping that no further actions will be needed – for now.
The above represents the view of the author and not necessarily that of Grayling.
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