EU to drop rule-of-law dispute with Poland

European Union says Poland has launched a series of measures to address concerns about judicial independence.

Ursala von der leyen and Poland PM Donald Tusk chat
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels on March 22, 2024 [File: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP]

The European Commission says it will end a years-long dispute with Poland over the rule of law.

The commission said in a statement on Monday that it intends to withdraw the procedure launched in December 2017 under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union after Warsaw’s new centrist government took steps to restore judicial independence.

“Today, marks a new chapter for Poland,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, calling the breakthrough a result of the country’s determined reform efforts. “The ongoing restoration of the rule of law in Poland is great for the Polish people and our union as a whole.”

The EU said in a statement that Poland had launched a series of legislative and non-legislative measures to address concerns about the independence of the justice system.

Poland has recognised the primacy of EU law and is committed to implementing the judgements of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, the EU said.

“Great news from Brussels today! Thank you President @vonderleyen for the cooperation and support!” Polish Minister of Justice Adam Bodnar wrote on the social media platform X.

“Poland is consequently bringing back rule of law. We are determined and devoted to our common European values.”

The EU and Poland had clashed after the nationalist Law and Justice party came to power in 2015 and implemented reforms that critics said placed Poland’s judiciary under political control.

The EU blocked Poland’s access to EU funds and in December 2017 moved to suspend the country’s voting rights under its Article 7 procedure.

Known as the EU’s “nuclear option”, the procedure can see a member state lose its voting rights, but the bloc has never got that far due to the required unanimity on the European Council.

Source: News Agencies