The EU parliament has adopted a resolution that provides for the launch of a mechanism for the application of sanctions by the European Union against Poland.
According to the statement, members of the European Parliament believe that the situation in Poland represents a “clear risk of a serious breach” of European values, including the rule of law, enshrined in the EU Treaty.
While Article 7.1 of the Treaty on the European Union stipulates the possibility of triggering the preventive mechanism if the majority of four fifths of the European Council members determine that there is a violation of common values, the parliament has decided by 438 votes to 152 with 71 abstentions to prepare a formal request that the Council activate it.
According to the EU parliament’s press release, if the risk still persists and the Polish authorities refuse to comply with the EU’s recommendations, the procedure might even lead to the suspension of Poland’s voting rights within the Council.
The move comes after the Polish parliament adopted two controversial bills on judiciary reform in July. While one of them empowers the parliament to appoint members of the National Council of Judiciary, another bill expands the powers of the justice minister, enabling the official to appoint or dismiss chief judges of ordinary courts.
Previously, the European Commission has expressed its opposition to the Polish legislation since it stipulates discrimination against individuals on the basis of gender by providing for the different retirement age for female and male judges.
Also, the Polish law was criticized over undermining the courts’ independence by giving the minister of justice the discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges who have reached retirement age, to dismiss and appoint court presidents and exert influence on individual judges through “vague criteria.”
After the legislation entered into force, Brussels launched an infringement procedure aimed at preventing Poland’s violation of EU legal norms. The procedure is held amid a wider dialogue between Brussels and Warsaw on the rule of law in Poland ongoing since early 2016.