Timmermans: No chance to withdraw Article 7 at this stage
The European Commission's Vice-President Frans Timmermans said that, at this stage, there is no chance to withdraw Article 7 which was launched by the EC in connection with concerns about the rule of law in Poland.
"We have made some progress, but we are not in a position to say that the issues have been resolved," The European Commission's Vice-President said in Brussels before the meeting with EU ministers for European Affairs, where he is to present a report on EC-Poland rule of law dialogue.
Asked what else he expects from the Polish authorities, he replied that everything is clear in the European Commission's recommendations.
"At the end of the day, it is about the independence of the judiciary," Timmermans pointed out. "In the rule of law situation, you have to be able to say that there is a clear separation of powers and the judiciary is independent. We have some concerns about that," he stressed.
Timmermans's words dispel doubts as to whether, in connection with the concessions made by Warsaw, an agreement will be reached on Monday in the rule of law dispute. When asked if there is any chance at this stage to withdraw Article 7, the deputy head of the EC said "no".
Such a position may be a surprise for those who are expecting a breakthrough. On Sunday, the Law and Justice MEP Karol Karski said that the issue of dialogue between Poland and the EC on the rule of law is "virtually closed".
Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and Timmermans met in Brussels in early May. Following the meeting, the EC vice-president said that the EC has not yet reached an agreement with Poland but was moving in the right direction. Czaputowicz on his part said Poland was ready to "show some openness" to the EC's recommendations to help close the issue.
In 2016, the European Commission triggered a rule-of-law procedure against Poland over its justice reforms arguing that the reforms impeded the independence of courts and in December 2017 launched the EU Treaty's sanctioning Article 7 procedure over a threat to EU values. The launching of Article 7 sanctions against Poland would need the consent of all EU members. (PAP)