Poland's Judicial Reform to 'Ruin' Europe's Opinion About Polish Democracy - EU

Controversial reforms of the Polish judicial system will destroy the already tarnished public opinion across Europe about the democracy situation in in the country as it is reversing decades of progress, European Council President and former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the Polish parliament's lower house adopted a draft bill concerning the functioning of the country's Supreme Court, which would change the system of appointing the court's judges and allow for the dismissal of current judges, except those nominated by the justice minister.

"Bringing the courts under the control of the governing party in the manner proposed by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) will ruin the already tarnished public opinion about Polish democracy. 

We must therefore find a solution which will be accepted by the Poles, the parliamentary majority and the opposition, the President and the European Union," Tusk said in a statement published by the European Council's press service.

The European Council's president said he had asked Polish President Andrzej Duda for "an urgent meeting" to discuss the political crisis and its outcomes for the country's future.

"It is our shared responsibility to prevent a black scenario that could ultimately lead to the marginalisation of Poland in Europe… It is my belief that its most recent actions go against European values and standards and risk damaging our reputation. 

They transport us — in the political sense — in time and space: backwards and eastwards," Tusk stressed.

Besides, the Polish Senate adopted last week two other bills as part of judiciary reform. 

The first outlines amendments to the law on the National Council of Judiciary, under which members of the Council, aimed at protection of an independent judiciary, will be appointed by the Parliament. 

The second draft bill will expand the powers of the justice minister, enabling the official to appoint or dismiss chief judges of ordinary courts.

Earlier this week, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani sent a letter to Duda, urging him to observe the principles of separation of powers, as well as the Polish courts’ independence and impartiality, a reference to the planned judicial reform.