Poland’s foreign minister has declared that the country’s judiciary reforms are in line with European standards and are not breaking any European law.
At the beginning of July, the European Commission launched legal action against the Polish government, claiming that the new law undermined judicial independence of the Supreme Court. The Commission has given Poland a month to respond, which will soon pass.
“We will answer the European Commission about the Supreme Court on time,” said Jacek Czaputowicz. “We believe, that the judicial reform is proceeding in line with European standards,” he added.
During an interview with Polsat, when asked whether the answer of the Polish authorities will satisfy the Commission, Czaputowicz replied that if they have any doubts, they can turn to the European Court of Justice.
“But there is no threat of financial punishments,” assures Czaputowicz. Poland is a “model country,” he says, when it comes to abiding by European law in contrast to other European countries. “If we took into account factors such as putting Court of Justice amendments into practice, then Poland would be at the top,” the foreign minister claims.
The new law imposes a retirement age of 65 on judges of the Supreme Court. Those judges who wish to stay on, can only do so with presidential assent. Up to 40 percent of Supreme Court judges are expected to leave, including the chief justice whose 6-year term guaranteed in the Constitution will be terminated. That is the core of the controversy. Some legal experts argue however, that there are other articles in the Constitution that would allow such a move.
Another Polish law which caused controversy was the Holocaust law, which threatened incarceration for anyone who would accuse Poland of participation in German crimes during the Second World War.
Czaputowicz states that contrary to press reports, the visit of the Polish president to the White House in September is independent of changes to the Holocaust law.
“I met with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before the law was changed and we discussed the visit,” he said, adding that he believes “it’s good that the changes were implemented.”
What’s more, following pressure from both Israel and the United States, the Holocaust law was changed in June. In the declaration, Mateusz Morawiecki and Benjamin Netanyahu rejected “actions aimed at blaming Poland or the Polish nation as a whole for the atrocities committed by the Nazis and the different nations that collaborated with them,” he said. The statement was published in several prominent European and American dailies as a paid ad.