The European Parliament is set to vote for a resolution tomorrow condemning the descent into authoritarianism of the Polish government and calling on the Commission and Council to act unless Warsaw backs down and respects EU fundamental rights and the rule of law.
Measures the Polish government has forced through in recent months include: a drastic reduction in the retirement age of Supreme Court justices, which would require the immediate retirement of nearly half the 80 judges; a National Council of the Judiciary (NCJ) reform that requires the election of its members by the Parliament; the formation of new Supreme Court chambers that will include lay judges and take on disciplinary proceedings against judges and deal with election-related matters; and a new process that would allow one of the new chambers to revise any court ruling delivered since 1997... i.e. packing the Court with political appointees, a clear breach of EU law.
And last month, the Polish Senate passed a controversial bill that outlaws blaming Poland for any crimes committed during the Holocaust - anyone accusing the Polish state or people of involvement or responsibility for the Nazi occupation during the Second World War could be jailed for up to three years under the new law. The government last week suspended the law pending the decision of the Constitutional Court.
Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties committee, said:
“The European Parliament will this week send a very clear message to the Polish government that it must respect the rule of law and accord its citizens their fundamental rights. The European Commission and national governments must also heed the warnings and be prepared to take action against the increasing authoritarianism of the current administration.
“This is not about criticism of Poland but about us demanding that the rights accorded to Polish citizens by their membership of the European Union are protected. And it is not just Poland; in Hungary as well the government of Viktor Orbán is clamping down on rights and freedoms, attacking its own citizens and migrants alike. As the UN high commissioner for human rights said this week, we have seen a surge in anti-immigrant politics, with oppression and the security state back in fashion.
“We need a clear and unambiguous position, from the Parliament, the Commission and Council: the rule of law must be upheld in all EU countries.”
Wednesday, February 28, 2018