Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Frans Timmermans, European Commissioner for Climate Action, criticized the decision to approve Poland’s coronavirus crisis recovery plan.
In an interview with The Guardian on Sunday, he described the conditional approval of Poland’s recovery and resilience plan as “incorrect” and reminded us that he voted against it.
Timmermans noted that Poland introduced regulations aimed at aligning its judiciary with EU standards, but expressed the belief that “the legislation prepared and voted in the Polish parliament does not comply with the milestones that we had set, and there I am in the minority” in the EC.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen previously stressed that Poland will not get access to recovery money unless it implements judicial reforms.
At the end of last year, she called on Poland to dissolve the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, reform the disciplinary system and reinstate the judges who were suspended by the controversial body.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) called on Poland to overturn decisions to suspend judges last year, with the EC giving the member state until the end of 2023 to do this.
Cases to be re-examined
According to Poland’s plan, suspended judges will have their cases re-examined under the new disciplinary system.
Timmermans stressed the importance of reinstating the judges immediately and unconditionally.
“Now in the Polish system, as they have now decided, the judges who were illegally removed from their functions get the right to reapply for that function and that might take up to 18 months,” he pointed out.
Timmermans stressed that “the same people who decided that they were stripped of their function should then decide whether they get their function back,” adding that this is not in line with the ECJ ruling.
The EC has the obligation to make sure that Poland implements ECJ rulings correctly, Timmermans noted and reiterated that Poland should reinstate suspended judges as soon as possible.
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, also opposed the conditional approval of Poland’s aid plan, as did her colleagues Didier Reynders and Věra Jourová, who did not attend the vote. Timmermans concluded that he will support the EC’s decision because “as a member of that Commission I am also responsible for that position.”