Brussels sends Poland a letter of formal notification over a judicial reform

The European Commission has started the sanction procedure against Poland by sending them a letter of formal notification.

This comes after it published a new law that the Commission thinks will take away the independence of ordinary Polish tribunals.

“The European Commission has started the procedure to sanction Poland by sending them a formal notification letter. We made this decision after the new law on organising communal law jurisdictions was published in the official Polish newspaper on Friday the 28th of July”, it said in a press release.

The European executive institution has given Poland a month to respond to the formal notification. It could lead to financial sanctions.

The European Commission gave them their first warning last week. They asked them to suspend several controversial reforms the conservative Polish government has recently brought in. These laws were contested by huge demonstrations in Poland.

On Monday, the Polish President Andrzej Duda, a member of the majority party, vetoed two of the laws that are accused of threatening judicial independence in the country. The veto was not applied to the law on organising communal law jurisdictions. The reform became official Polish law on Friday.

Brussels thinks the reform on ordinary tribunals contains discriminatory measures, including different retirement ages for men and women. The Commission has also criticised a measure that gives the Justice Minister the power to prolong the mandates of judges that have reached retirement age.

The vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, sent a letter to the Polish Foreign Affairs Minister on Friday. It repeated Mr Timmerman’s invitation for the latter and the Polish Justice Minister to meet in Brussels and discuss the issue.

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