Brussels uses rule of law for political aims - dep foreign minister

A Polish deputy foreign minister has argued that Brussels is not concerned about the rule of law in Poland, but instead uses it as a pretext to achieve political goals.

Pawel Jablonski told the right-wing television station TV Republika on Wednesday that the EU "uses legal issues solely as an instrument in political struggle."

On Tuesday, The European Commission (EC) gave Poland until August 16 to adhere to an EU court ruling on the Disciplinary Chamber of the country’s Supreme Court, or face a financial penalty.

Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided that Poland's new disciplinary regime for judges is not compatible with EU law.

In October 2019, the European Commission decided to take Poland to the CJEU. The EC argued that the Disciplinary Chamber under the Polish Supreme Court, set up in 2017 by the ruling coalition to take disciplinary measures against judges who break the law or code of conduct, violated judicial independence in that it could have a "chilling effect" on judges, and thus ran against EU law.

Jablonski said the CJEU has been "expanding its competences through the fait accompli method over what is written in the (EU) treaties."

The deputy minister added that more than 10 EU member states have experienced clashes between their national legislation and EU law, complaining that only Poland is facing financial consequences.

"Unfortunately, it is a sign of unequal treatment in the EU," he added.

He also accused the EU of using double standards, with one approach applied towards the 'old' EU members and another towards the countries that joined the bloc from 2004.

Government spokesman Piotr Mueller denied the EC's latest move was an ultimatum. "We now have a month to respond to the documents the European Commission has presented, in relation to which we will use that time to present arguments that we have been raising for a long time," he said.

According to Mueller, Poland's Supreme Court would have to decide how to proceed bearing in mind recent rulings by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal (TK).

Last week, the TK ruled as unconstitutional the EU Treaty provisions on which the CJEU based its interim measures concerning the functioning of the Supreme Court's Disciplinary Chamber. The interim measures were later confirmed by the final ruling of the CJEU.

Mueller added that the Law and Justice government intended to make further judicial reforms but denied that those reforms would involve dissolving the Supreme Court's Disciplinary Chamber.