EP adopts resolution on rule of law in Poland

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution stating the progressing deterioration of the rule of law in Poland.

The resolution went through in a 513 to 148 vote with 33 abstentions.

The document, prepared by the EP's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), states that the situation has deteriorated since the activation of the EU Treaty's sanctioning Article 7 procedure against Poland over rule-of-law delinquencies, and recommends that the European Commission (EC) and EU Council take decisive steps in the matter.

In its description of rule-of-law infringements in Poland, the resolution names the justice system, including the functioning of the Polish constitutional court, electoral laws, the freedom of gatherings, abortion rights and discrimination against the LGBT minority.

In late April, the EC launched EU law infringement procedures against Poland over the introduction of disciplinary measures against judges. According to the Commission, the December-passed regulation restricts judicial independence and violates the principle of the primacy of EU law over national legislation.

Poland has been given two months to respond. Should Poland and the EC reach no resolution in the matter, it may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.

The resolution authors also voice "deep concern" over the recent arrest of 48 LGBTI activists in Poland, and criticise the Polish Episcopate's appeals for the therapeutic treatment of LGTBI persons.

The resolution was backed by 20 Polish opposition MEPS, including former Polish prime ministers Jerzy Buzek and Leszek Miller. Against it were 27 MEPs representing Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

LIBE chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar said after the vote that the broad consent behind the resolution was "the best answer" to the Polish side's claims that it was a "leftist conspiracy."

Before the vote, PIS MEP Beata Kempa told PAP that the resolution reflected a "liberal-leftist trend aimed towards interference in the sovereignty of states."

"The Polish government has forgotten that democracy is not about majority rule but respect for EU laws, pluralism, the right to contest and the protection of minorities," Aguilar said. He added that it was "high time for the (EU - PAP) Council to conclude the Article 7 procedure in a meaningful way."

On Monday EC Vice-President Vera Jourova said that the Commission will soon decide about further steps in rule of law proceedings concerning the Polish justice system.