The EU criminal proceedings initiated against poland are on hold despite new worrying developments. At a meeting in luxembourg, the EU council of ministers did not draw any conclusions from a gloomy assessment of the situation regarding the rule of law in the country.
The next meeting will discuss how to proceed, announced the austrian EU minister gernot blumel, the current chairman of the council of ministers.
EU vice commission president frans timmermans had previously said that unfortunately the situation in poland had recently deteriorated further. He was alluding to the fact that the polish government had filled additional judgeships at the supreme court about a week ago. Previously, several other judges had been forced into retirement by a new law reducing the retirement age. This is currently also being examined by the european court of justice.
The EU criminal proceedings, which in the last stage could even result in the withdrawal of EU voting rights, are intended to persuade the polish government to make changes to its reforms. According to the council of europe’s legal experts, these have led to a direct dependence of the judiciary on the parliamentary majority and the president of the republic.
The next step in the criminal proceedings was for the council of ministers to officially determine by vote that there is a "clear risk of a serious breach" of EU values in poland. This required the approval of 22 of the 28 EU member states. The reason for the lack of a vote so far is the cautious attitude that especially central and eastern european countries have towards the procedure initiated by the eu commission.
Germany and france once again backed the commission’s course in a joint statement on tuesday. There is concern about the youngest judicial appointments, it says among other things. The so-called article 7 procedure must be continued.
No major progress was made on tuesday in the proceedings against hungary, which were initiated by the european parliament on the grounds of an alleged threat to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the country. The council of ministers simply asked the hungarian government to prepare an official statement on the accusations. In addition, the EU commission was asked to provide information about previous and ongoing other EU proceedings against hungary.