EC's Jourova to meet Polish officials on Tuesday
European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova in Poland on Tuesday will meet with top Polish officials, including the justice minister, the Senate and Sejm (lower house) speakers, the Constitutional Tribunal head, and the first president of the Supreme Court.
The announcement was made in Brussels on Monday by EC spokesperson Christian Wigand. The talks in Warsaw are planned to focus on the judicial reforms and the rule of law.
Wigand told a Friday press conference in Brussels that the EC has no doubts as to the legal authority of Poland's Supreme Court, but does have reservations over the legality of the country's Constitutional Tribunal.
The spokesman said the EC was aware of a decision by the Supreme Court concerning judges of the National Council of the Judiciary and would not comment on it, but the development of the situation concerning the rule of law in Poland is proof that immediate constructive dialogue on the matter is needed.
On Thursday, three Supreme Court (SN) chambers passed a resolution stating that when a judge nominated by the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) is included in a court line-up, then this line-up is incorrect. The resolution does not apply to rulings issued by courts before the resolutions' passage, but it does apply to any rulings issued by the Disciplinary Chamber, a section of the SN that the SN recently ruled as not being a court under EU law.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) set up the Disciplinary Chamber under one of its reforms.
Following the government's KRS reform, members of this judicial self-government body are no longer elected by judges, and are today nominated by parliament, which the SN sees as a breach of judicial independence.
The Justice Ministry refused to recognise the legality of Thursday's resolution.
The Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the head of the European Commission (EC) representation in Poland to protest against EC spokesperson Christian Wigand's statement. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński said on Saturday that the statement made by the EC spokesperson was absolutely inadmissible to the Polish government.
Jablonski made the statement after a meeting with the head of the European Commission (EC) representation in Poland, Marek Prawda, who had been summoned by the Foreign Ministry on Friday.
On December 20, the Polish lower house passed a bill that introduces disciplinary measures on judges who, according to legislators, obstruct the functioning of the judiciary, question judicial appointments and engage in political activity.
The bill was rejected by the upper house on Friday after the Venice Commission recommended scrapping the legislation on the grounds that it "may be seen as further undermining the independence of the judiciary." However, the Senate's move was rather symbolic as the lower house has the power to overturn the upper house's decision.