The European Commission announced on Monday May 6 its intention to put an end to a procedure initiated in December 2017 against Poland, welcoming the measures taken by the government of Donald Tusk to restore the independence of the judicial system. This procedure was launched by the Commission due to concerns about the judicial reforms implemented by the nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), in power until 2023, accused of undermining the independence of judges.

“Today marks a new chapter for Poland,” said EU executive president Ursula von der Leyen. “After more than six years, we believe that the Article 7 proceedings can be closed. I congratulate Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his government on this major breakthrough,” she added.

The procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union (EU) can in theory lead to a suspension of a country’s voting rights in the Council of the EU, in the event of a “serious breach” of the Rule of law in a Member State.

Warsaw immediately hailed “good news.” “This strengthens Poland within the European Union (…) There is no longer this negative shadow over us,” reacted the Minister of Development and Regional Policies, Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz, on the TVN24 channel .

Recognition of the primacy of European law

Relations between the EU and Warsaw have experienced a revival since the defeat of PiS in the October legislative elections and the coming to power of pro-European forces led by Donald Tusk. For the Commission, “there is no longer a clear risk of a serious violation of the rule of law in Poland within the meaning of Article 7 of the EU Treaty”.

She underlines that this country has launched a series of measures to respond to concerns about the independence of its judicial system, recognized the primacy of European law and is committed to applying the decisions of the EU justice system and the Court European Union of Human Rights.

This decision will be submitted to the ministers of the 27 at the General Affairs Council on May 21, during which they will be able to present their observations. The Commission will then formally end the procedure.

The Article 7 procedure has only been triggered against one other Member State: Viktor Orban’s Hungary, this time at the initiative of the European Parliament, in September 2018, due to a “systemic” threat to EU values ​​in this country.