The Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, escalated the diplomatic row between Brussels and Warsaw on Wednesday when he said that the EU was launching legal infringement proceedings and giving Warsaw a one month ultimatum over one of the recently passed reforms to Poland’s court system, even as earlier in the week Poland’s president Andrzej Duda vetoed two of the four controversial reforms to the judiciary.
The EU has taken issue with one particular legislation because it introduces different retirement ages for male and female judges, which the Commission claims is a breach of EU anti-discrimination law. The law would see female judges retire at 60 and males at 65. As a result, Timmermans gave Warsaw a one month ultimatum to alleviate its concerns over the rule of law before deciding on whether it would “escalate proceedings.” Timmermans also said the approval of the remaining measures still undermined the independence of the country’s judges in defiance of EU law.
Brussels also sent a set of recommendations to Poland threatening that the country’s voting rights could be suspended – under Article 7 of the EU treaty – if certain changes are implemented. Specifically, Polish authorities are warned not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges.
“In this past week some things have changed in Poland and some have not”, said Mr Timmermans. Any move from Poland’s ruling Law And Justice Party (PiS) to force the resignation of the country’s judges would have the EU stand “immediately ready to trigger the Article 7 procedure”, added the commissioner. Invocation of Article 7 of the EU’s treaties would result in a formal warning to Warsaw – an unprecedented move that has yet to be taken against a member state government.
“The Commission’s hand is still extended to the Polish authorities, in the hope of a constructive dialogue”, added Mr Timmermans.Article 7.1 of the Treaty on European Union provides for the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, to determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the common values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty (see Annex II). The Commission can trigger this process by a reasoned proposal.
Annex II – Article 7 Treaty on European Union
3. Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.
The obligations of the Member State in question under the Treaties shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.
Full article: EU Gives Poland One Month Ultimatum, Threatens With “Article 7 Procedure” (ZeroHedge)