EU action to defend the Rule of Law in Poland welcomed by European Philanthropy

The recent launch of the European Commission’s infringement procedure against Poland regarding the Polish law on the Supreme Court is strongly supported by the EFC and DAFNE. This is an important step to ensure the independence of courts and to defend the rule of law, not just in Poland but also the rest of the EU. Last month Gerry Salole, EFC’s Chief Executive and Max von Abendroth, DAFNE’s CEO jointly raised concerns about these developments. See joint letter for more information. Concerns were also raised by former President of Poland Lech Wałęsa, 120 civil society organisations, 97 artists and intellectuals, 17,000 Polish citizens, and the European People’s Party amongst others.

The situation is unfolding constantly. Yesterday 27 out of 72 Supreme Court judges and First President of the Supreme Court were forced to retire as the new Polish law on the Supreme Court lowers the retirement age from 70 to 65. According to the law, current judges are given the possibility to declare their will to have their mandate prolonged by the President of the Republic. However there are no criteria established for the President’s decision and there is no possibility for a judicial review of this decision. The European Commission believes that these measures fundamentally undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges. Poland is now failing to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty on European Union (Article 19(1)) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Article 47), hence the Commission’s decision to launch this infringement procedure as a matter of urgency. The Polish government will have one month to reply to the Commission’s Letter of Formal Notice. At the same time, the Commission stands ready to continue the ongoing rule of law dialogue with Poland to resolve the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland.

In Poland thousands of people went on the streets to protest against the new law waiving the European flag. The EFC and DAFNE express their solidarity with Polish civil society and will continue to monitor the developments.

For more information in the EC press release.