German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Sunday, he welcomes European Union’s intentions to introduce sanctions against Poland over the latter’s judicial reform, which, according to Maas, endangers the independence of the Polish judicial system.
On Saturday, the Polish Senate approved a controversial bill on judicial overhaul that will remove Supreme Court judges. Earlier this week, the European Commission discussed the reform, drawing a conclusion that it would have a very negative impact on the judiciary and would threaten the rule of law in Poland. The EU Commission stated its readiness to revoke article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty that might suspend Poland’s membership rights, such as voting in the Council of Europe.
“The independence of the judiciary in Poland is in danger. The European Union cannot idly watch it,” Maas said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that he welcomes the EU Commission reviewing “specific sanctions.”The minister also warned Polish authorities that “those that have little respect for the rule of law submit to politically isolating themselves.”
Along with the aforementioned bill, the Polish Senate adopted last week two other bills as part of judiciary reform. One of the bills outlines amendments to the law on the National Council of Judiciary, under which members of the Council, aimed at protection of an independent judiciary, will be appointed by the Parliament. The second draft bill will expand the powers of the justice minister, enabling the official to appoint or dismiss chief judges of ordinary courts. The bills need to be signed by the president before entering into force.