Poland’s President gives partial go-ahead to contested judicial reform

Series Title
Series Details July 2017
Publication Date 24/07/2017
Content Type

Background and further information:

Despite the approval by the national parliament in July 2017, the proposals needed the endorsement of the president before becoming law. Polish President Andrzej Duda decided to veto two of the measures while approving a third, which provides the justice minister with the right to name the heads of the country's lower courts. Mr Duda pointed out that, while a supporter of the judicial reform, this needed to be undertaken according to the Constitution.

The two vetoed proposals related to the selection of Supreme Court judges by the justice minister and to the political control over the selection of those who sit on the National Judiciary Council, which nominated the Supreme Court judges.

The reforms were set to return for amendment to parliament, where they require a three-fifths majority to go through unchanged. The government led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party expressed its disappointment over the veto, also because it does not enjoy such a majority in the parliament. Members of the opposition highligthed the role of protests in influencing the decision.

The judicial reform had been closely followed by the European Commission, which threatened the triggering of Article 7 mechanism on rule of law.

Poland's President Andrzej Duda announced on 24 July 2017 he had decided to veto two of the three proposals included in a legislative package aimed at reforming the country's judicial system. The decision was announced following a series of protests across Poland against the measures approved by the Parliament on 20 July 2017.

On the 25 September 2017 President Duda proposed changes to the country’s constitution amid the row over sweeping legal reforms that had caused protests at home and warnings from the European Commission. He presented his own versions of the two draft bills that he had refused to sign into law in July 2017.

European Commissioner Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, responsible for monitoring Poland’s judiciary reforms, said he would 'carefully examine' the Polish President's proposals.

Related Links
Euro|Topics: Debates, July 2017: Why the deep rifts in Polish politics? http://www.eurotopics.net/en/183292/why-the-deep-rifts-in-polish-politics
Blog: Verfassungsblog, 26.07.17: Is Poland’s President Duda on the Road to Damascus? http://verfassungsblog.de/is-polands-president-duda-on-the-road-to-damascus/
ESO: Background information: Judicial reforms in Poland – getting the public on board (EuroppBlog, 26.07.17) http://www.europeansources.info/record/judicial-reforms-in-poland-getting-the-public-on-board/
EurActiv, 24.07.17: Polish president vetoes controversial court reforms http://www.euractiv.com/section/freedom-of-thought/news/polish-president-vetoes-controversial-court-reforms/
BBC News, 24.07.17: Poland's President Duda vetoes judicial reforms after protests http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40703909
Bloomberg, 25.07.17: [Opinion] Poland's President Is No Friend of the Opposition https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-07-25/poland-s-president-is-no-friend-of-the-opposition
Deutsche Welle, 25.07.17: Polish President Andrzej Duda to veto judicial reforms http://p.dw.com/p/2h2q4
Politico, 25.07.17: [Press Review] Poland: ‘A victory for citizens’ http://www.politico.eu/article/poland-a-victory-for-citizens/
The Guardian, 25.07.17: Poland's president signs controversial law despite protests https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/25/polands-president-signs-controversial-law-despite-protests
EUObserver, 25.07.17: Polish president's veto leaves uncertainties over next move https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/138598
The Guardian, 25.07.17: Why suspicion remains over Polish president's veto of contentious laws https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/25/why-suspicion-remains-over-polish-presidents-veto-of-contentious-laws
Radio Poland, 25.07.17: Polish PM pledges to 'repair' judiciary despite presidential veto http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/317793,Polish-PM-pledges-to-repair-judiciary-despite-presidential-veto
BBC News, 24.07.17: Poland court reforms: PM Beata Szydlo vows to fight for change http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40708835
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Deutsche Welle, 24.07.17: [Opinion] Polish President Andrzej Duda frees himself http://p.dw.com/p/2h4pE
Human Rights Watch: News, 24.07.17: Poland’s President Pulls Country Back from Brink https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/24/polands-president-pulls-country-back-brink
EUObserver, 24.07.17: EU Commission unmoved by Polish president's veto https://euobserver.com/justice/138593
Radio Poland, 24.07.17: Polish justice system 'sick': report http://www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/317645,Polish-justice-system-corrupt-report
EUObserver, 24.07.17: Young people show up in droves to defend Poland's courts https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/138581
Deutsche Welle, 24.07.17: How the Catholic Church ties in to Poland's judicial reform http://p.dw.com/p/2h2Ep
Radio Poland, 25.07.17: District and appeals courts reforms signed into law amid political storm http://thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/317811,District-and-appeals-courts-reforms-signed-into-law-amid-political-storm
ECFR: Commentary, 25.07.17: Poland: The importance of being president http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_poland_the_importance_of_being_president
Radio Poland, 25.09.17: Polish president urges constitutional change amid plans for legal reform http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/327351,Polish-president-urges-constitutional-change-amid-plans-for-legal-reform
Blog: Verfassungsblog, 29.09.17: President Duda is Destroying the Rule of Law instead of Fixing it (by Marcin Matczak) http://verfassungsblog.de/president-duda-is-destroying-the-rule-of-law-instead-of-fixing-it/
Politico, 25-26.09.17: Poland’s Duda acts to avoid head-on clash with Brussels http://www.politico.eu/article/poland-supreme-court-andrzej-duda-acts-to-avoid-clash-with-brussels/

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