Late last year, the European Commission expressed its concern over the rule of law in Poland after a total of 13 controversial pieces of legislation seriously affecting the judicial system were adopted in the country.
European Council President Donald Tusk has warned of a “very serious threat” of Poland leaving the EU by “accident”, the so-called “Polexit” scenario, which he said may take place if Warsaw continues to quarrel with Brussels over judicial reforms.
Urging the Polish government to stop its high-profile feud with the EU, Tusk also cautioned Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, who risks taking Poland out of the EU.
Tusk made it plain that he doesn’t care whether Kaczynski is “planning an exit from the EU, or only initiates certain processes that result in this.”
“I have experience with [UK] Prime Minister David Cameron. I worked with him day by day to avoid Brexit. He came up with the idea of a referendum and then did everything to keep Britain in the EU, but he led the UK out,” Tusk underscored.
He added that he fears that in Europe “the will to keep Poland in the EU by all means might be smaller than in the case of the UK.” and that “the situation is very, very serious.”
In mid-August, the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) warned that it may suspend Poland’s membership in the organization because of the country’s failure to conform with the EU’s requirements for judicial reforms.
The warning came after the European Commission expressed its concern in December 2017 over the rule of law in Poland, arguing that Warsaw allows the executive and legislative branches to intervene in the judicial branch’s affairs, thereby undermining the country’s judicial independence.
In 2017, the Polish parliament passed yet another controversial law, lowering the retirement age for the country’s Supreme Court justices from 70 to 65 years, forcing 27 out of 72 judges, including the court’s first president, to retire prematurely.