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POLAND: New EC procedure against Poland

The European Commission has launched a new infringement procedure against Poland over disciplinary rules for judges introduced by the PiS government. The EC’s Vice-president Frans Timmermans argued that there have been cases where officials appointed by the Justice Ministry have begun disciplinary proceedings against judges who spoke out publicly against PiS’ judiciary reforms. During yesterday’s statements, Timmermans argued that this is yet another instance of systemic political control over the justice system in Poland. This is another infringement procedure initiated against Poland due to judiciary reforms; Warsaw has two months to reply to the EC’s accusations.

Many commentators have noted that EC’s actions are connected with the ongoing European election campaign and Timmermans’ bid for the next Commission. PiS figures have argued that Timmermans is using procedures against Poland and Hungary as an election campaign platform. Many experts agree that PiS’ Disciplinary Chamber is far from the most controversial aspect of the judiciary reforms; many have praised some of its actions thus far and similar systems do exist in the EU.

This procedure will also affect the ongoing campaign in Poland, but it is unclear to whose benefit. For the opposition European Coalition (Civic Platform), this will provide for another example of how PiS is damaging Poland’s reputation in the EU. Still, such narratives have been present for the past few years and have not motivated many new voters against PiS. For the ruling party, however, every new infringement procedure boosts ratings, as PiS voters rally when judiciary reforms are attacked by the Commission.