The rule of law has “deteriorated” in Poland and Hungary, according to the EU Parliament. For years, the EU has been warning about eroding democracy in both countries. The latest flashpoint is over Polish judges; the EU Commission believes Warsaw is pushing forward laws to undermine judicial independence, while the Polish government argues it is simply getting on with much-need justice reforms.
Critics fear that Polish judges are being muzzled. A new law will punish judges who even criticise the government’s reforms, which include laws allowing judges to be censure based on the content of their verdicts or whether they refer cases to the European Court of Justice for preliminary rulings.
The EU Commission has brought Poland before the European Court of Justice over the issue. The Commission says it wants to protect judges from political control so that they can continue to make their judgements independently, which is a prerequisite for EU membership. Poland’s government, however, believes that judicial systems are a national issue and have nothing to do with EU rules.
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Wiktoria, who says Polish citizens want a more harmonious relationship between Warsaw and Brussels. She believes Polish citizens definitely support the EU, but they also support the Polish government, and thinks the message to both should be: “build bridges and be constructive”. With a new EU Commission in place, is there an opportunity for improved relations?
To get a response, we spoke to Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz to ask how he would respond to Wiktoria:
To get another perspective, we also put Wiktoria’s comment to Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency, when we spoke to her at Friends of Europe’s State of Europe event in Brussels in October 2019. What would she say?
Will the new EU Commission have a better relationship with Poland? Do the Polish government’s judicial reform violate fundamental EU values or is that a domestic matter alone? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!