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<Date>{20/07/2020}20.7.2020</Date>
<NoDocSe>A9-0138/2020</NoDocSe>
PDF 300kWORD 103k

<TitreType>INTERIM REPORT</TitreType>

<Titre>on the proposal for a Council decision on the determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law</Titre>

<DocRef>(COM(2017)08352017/0360R(NLE))</DocRef>


<Commission>{LIBE}Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs</Commission>

Rapporteur: <Depute>Juan Fernando López Aguilar</Depute> 

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 ANNEX: LIST OF ENTITIES OR PERSONS FROM WHOM THE RAPPORTEUR HAS RECEIVED INPUT
 OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUALITY
 PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council decision on the determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law

(COM(2017)08352017/0360R(NLE))

 

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2017)0835),

 having regard to the Treaty on European Union, and in particular Article 2 and Article 7(1) thereof,

 having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

 having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Protocols thereto,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

 having regard to the international human rights treaties of the United Nations, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

- having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention),

 having regard to its legislative resolution of 20 April 2004 on the Commission communication on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union: Respect for and promotion of the values on which the Union is based[1],

 having regard to Communication of 15 October 2003 from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union - Respect for and promotion of the values on which the Union is based[2],

 having regard to Communication of 11 March 2014 from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, ‘A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law’[3],

 having regard to its resolution of 13 April 2016 on the situation in Poland[4],

 having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2016 on the recent developments in Poland and their impact on fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union[5],

 having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2017 on the situation of the rule of law and democracy in Poland[6],

 having regard to the activation by the Commission of the structured dialogue under the Rule of Law Framework in January 2016,

 having regard to Commission Recommendation (EU) 2016/1374 of 27 July 2016 regarding the rule of law in Poland[7],

 having regard to Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/146 of 21 December 2016 regarding the rule of law in Poland  complementary to Recommendation (EU) 2016/1374[8],

  having regard to Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/1520 of 26 July 2017 regarding the rule of law in Poland complementary to Recommendations (EU) 2016/1374 and (EU) 2017/146 [9],

 having regard to Commission Recommendation (EU) 2018/103 of 20 December 2017 regarding the rule of law in Poland complementary to Commission Recommendations (EU) 2016/1374, (EU) 2017/146 and (EU) 2017/1520[10],

 having regard to its resolution of 1 March 2018 on the Commission’s decision to activate Article 7(1) TEU as regards the situation in Poland[11],

 having regard to its resolution of 14 November 2019 on the criminalisation of sexual education in Poland[12],

 having regard to its resolution of 18 December 2019 on public discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI people, including LGBTI free zones[13],

 having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2019 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union in 2017[14],

- having regard to its resolution of 3 May 2018 on media pluralism and media freedom in the European Union[15],

 having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2020 on ongoing hearings under Article 7(1) of the TEU regarding Poland and Hungary[16],

 having regard to its resolution of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences[17],

 having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 with recommendations to the Commission on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights[18],

- having regard to its resolution of 13 February 2019 on experiencing a backlash in women’s rights and gender equality in the EU[19],

- having regard to its resolution of 28 November 2019 on the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention and other measures to combat gender-based violence[20],

 having regard to its legislative resolution of 4 April 2019 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of the Union’s budget in case of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States[21],

- having regard to its legislative resolution of 17 April 2019 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Rights and Values programme[22],

 having regard to the four infringement procedures launched by the Commission against Poland in relation to the reform of the Polish judicial system, of which the first two resulted in judgments of the Court of Justice[23] finding violations of the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union enshrining the principle of effective judicial protection, while the two other procedures are still pending,

 having regard to the three hearings of Poland held in 2018 by the General Affairs Council within the framework of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure,

 having regard to the mission report of 3 December 2018, following the visit by the Committee on Civil Liberties and Justice and Home Affairs to Warsaw from 19 until 21 September 2018, and to the hearings on the rule of law situation in Poland held in that Committee on 20 November 2018 and 23 April 2020;

 having regard to the annual reports of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Anti-Fraud Office,

- having regard to the 2018 WHO recommendations on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights,

- having regard to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 24 July 2014, Al Nashiri v. Poland (application No. 28761/11),

 having regard to Rules 89 and 105(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality,

 having regard to the interim report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A9-0138/2020),

A. whereas the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union  and as reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and embedded in international human rights treaties;

B. whereas, in contrast to Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the scope of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union is not confined to areas covered by Union law, as indicated in the Commission’s Communication of 15 October 2003, and whereas the Union can therefore assess the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach of the common values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union not only in the event of a breach in this limited field but also in the event of a breach in an area where the Member States act autonomously;

C. whereas any clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union does not concern solely the individual Member State where the risk materialises but has a negative impact on the other Member States, on mutual trust between Member States and on the very nature of the Union;

D. whereas the Member States have, in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, freely and voluntarily committed themselves to the common values referred to in Article 2 thereof;

1. States that the concerns of Parliament relate to the following issues:

– the functioning of the legislative and electoral system,

– the independence of the judiciary and the rights of judges,

– the protection of fundamental rights;

2. Reiterates its position, expressed in several of its resolutions on the situation of the rule of law and democracy in Poland, that the facts and trends mentioned in this resolution taken together represent a systemic threat to the values of Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and constitute a clear risk of a serious breach thereof;

3. Expresses its deep concern that, despite three hearings with the Polish authorities having been held in the Council, multiple exchanges of views in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the presence of the Polish authorities, alarming reports by the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, and four infringement procedures launched by the Commission, the rule of law situation in Poland has not only not been addressed but has seriously deteriorated since the triggering of the procedure referred to in Article 7(1) TEU; is of the opinion that discussions in the Council within the framework of the procedure referred to in Article 7(1) TEU have been neither regular nor structured, and have neither sufficiently addressed the substantial issues that warranted the activation of the procedure nor adequately mapped the impact that the Polish government’s actions are having on the values referred to in Article 2 TEU;

4. Notes that the Commission’s reasoned proposal of 20 December 2017 in accordance with Article 7(1) of the TEU regarding the rule of law in Poland: proposal for a Council decision on the determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law[24] has a limited scope, namely the rule of law situation in Poland in the strict sense of independence of the judiciary; sees an urgent need to widen the scope of the reasoned proposal by including clear risks of serious breaches of other basic values of the Union, especially democracy and respect for human rights;

5. Takes the view that the latest developments in the ongoing hearings under Article 7(1) TEU once again underline the imminent need for a complementary and preventive Union mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights as put forward in its resolution of 25 October 2016;

6. Reiterates its position on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of the Union’s budget in case of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States, including the need to safeguard the rights of beneficiaries, and calls on the Council to start interinstitutional negotiations as soon as possible;

7. Reiterates its position as regards the budget envelope for the new Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme within the next multiannual financial framework, and calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that adequate funding is provided for national and local civil society organisations to grow grassroots support for democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in the Member States, including Poland;

****

Functioning of the legislative and electoral system in Poland

Use of powers of constitutional revision by the Polish parliament

8. Denounces the fact that the Polish parliament assumed powers of constitutional revision which it did not have when it acted as the ordinary legislature in adopting the Act of 22 December 2015 amending the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal[25] and the Act of 22 July 2016 on the Constitutional Tribunal[26], as found by the Constitutional Tribunal in its judgments of 9 March[27], 11 August[28] and 7 November 2016[29][30];

9. Regrets, furthermore, that many particularly sensitive legislative acts have been adopted by the Polish parliament at a time when independent constitutional review of laws can no longer be effectively guaranteed, such as the Act of 30 December 2015 amending the Act on Civil Service and certain other acts[31], the Act of 15 January 2016 amending the Act on the police and certain other acts[32], the Act of 28 January 2016 on the public prosecution office[33] and the Act of 28 January 2016 - regulations implementing the Act on the public prosecution office[34], the Act of 18 March 2016 amending the Act on the Ombudsman and certain other acts[35], the Act of 22 June 2016 on the National Media Council[36], the Act of 10 June 2016 on anti-terrorist actions[37] and several other acts fundamentally reorganising the judicial system[38];

The use of expedited legislative procedures

10. Deplores the frequent use of expedited legislative procedures by the Polish parliament for the adoption of crucial legislation redesigning the organisation and functioning of the judiciary, without meaningful consultation with stakeholders, including the judicial community[39];

Electoral law and organisation of elections

11. Notes with concern that the OSCE concluded that media bias and intolerant rhetoric in the campaign for the October 2019 parliamentary elections were of significant concern[40] and that, while all candidates were able to campaign freely, senior state officials used publicly funded events for campaign messaging; notes, furthermore, that the dominance of the ruling party in public media further amplified its advantage[41];

12. Is concerned that the new Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Matters of the Supreme Court (hereinafter the ‘Extraordinary Chamber’), the majority of whose members are individuals nominated by the new National Council of the Judiciary and which risks not qualifying as an independent tribunal in the assessment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereinafter the ‘Court of Justice’), is to ascertain the validity of elections and to examine electoral disputes; notes that this raises serious concerns as regards the separation of powers and the functioning of Polish democracy, in that it makes judicial review of electoral disputes particularly vulnerable to political influence and is capable of creating legal uncertainty as to the validity of such review[42];

13. Notes that, in its 2002 Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters[43], the Venice Commission provides clear guidelines on the holding of general elections during public emergencies, including epidemics; notes that, while the Code provides for the possibility of exceptional voting arrangements, any amendments to introduce such arrangements may only be considered to be in accordance with European best practices 'if the principle of free suffrage is guaranteed'; considers that this is not the case with the amendments to the electoral framework for the presidential elections that were to take place on 10 May 2020, since they could impede the elections from taking a fair, secret and equal course, with full respect for the right to privacy[44] and in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament  and of the Council[45]; notes moreover that those amendments run counter to the case law of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal that was developed when constitutional review was still effective, and which stated that the electoral code is not to be modified 6 months before any elections; notes with concern that the announcement to postpone the presidential elections came only 4 days before the scheduled date;

Independence of the judiciary and of other institutions and the rights of judges in Poland

Reform of the justice system – general considerations

14. Recognises that, while the organisation of the justice system is a national competence, the Court of Justice has repeatedly held that Member States are required to comply with their obligations under Union law when exercising that competence; reiterates that national judges are also European judges, applying Union law, which makes their independence a common concern for the Union, including the Court of Justice, which has to enforce respect for the rule of law as laid down in Article 19 TEU and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (hereinafter the ‘Charter’) in the field of application of Union law; calls on the Polish authorities to uphold and maintain the independence of Polish courts;

The composition and functioning of the Constitutional Tribunal

15. Recalls that the Acts concerning the Constitutional Tribunal adopted on 22 December 2015 and 22 July 2016, as well as the package of three acts adopted at the end of 2016[46], seriously undermined the Constitutional Tribunal’s independence and legitimacy and that the Acts of 22 December 2015 and of 22 July 2016 were declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Tribunal on 9 March 2016 and 11 August 2016, respectively; recalls that those judgments were not published at the time or implemented by the Polish authorities; seriously deplores the fact that the constitutionality of Polish laws can no longer be effectively guaranteed in Poland since the entry into force of the aforementioned legislative changes[47]; invites the Commission to consider launching an infringement procedure in relation to the legislation on the Constitutional Tribunal, its unlawful composition and its role in preventing compliance with the preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice of 19 November 2019[48];

The retirement, appointment and disciplinary regimes for judges of the Supreme Court

16. Recalls that, in 2017, changes in the method of nomination of candidates for the office of the First President of the Supreme Court ( hereinafter the ‘First President’) effectively rendered the participation of the Supreme Court judges in the selection procedure meaningless; denounces the fact that the Act of 20 December 2019 amending the Act on the organisation of the common courts, the Act on the Supreme Court and certain other acts[49] (the ‘Act of 20 December 2019’) even further reduces the participation of the judges in the selection process for the First President by introducing a position of Acting First President of the Supreme Court (hereinafter the ‘Acting First President’) appointed by the President of the Republic of Poland and by reducing the quorum in the third round to 32 out of 125 judges only, thereby effectively abandoning the model of power-sharing between the President of the Republic of Poland and the judicial community enshrined in Article 183(3) of the Polish Constitution[50];

17. Notes with concern the irregularities surrounding the nomination of the Acting First President and his further actions; is deeply concerned that the process of electing the candidates for the office of First President did not comply with Article 183 of the Polish Constitution or the Rules of Procedure of the Supreme Court and violated basic standards of deliberation among the members of the General Assembly of the Judges of the Supreme Court (hereinafter the ‘General Assembly’); notes with regret that doubts concerning the validity of the election process in the General Assembly as well as the impartiality and independence of the Acting First Presidents during the election process could undermine further the separation of powers and the legitimacy of the new First President nominated by the President of the Republic of Poland on 25 May 2020, and could thus call into question the independence of the Supreme Court; recalls that similar violations of law by the President of the Republic of Poland occurred when nominating the President of the Constitutional Tribunal;

18. Shares the Commission’s concern that the power of the President of the Republic of Poland (and in some cases the Minister of Justice) to exercise influence over disciplinary proceedings against Supreme Court judges by appointing a disciplinary officer who will investigate the case, excluding the disciplinary officer of the Supreme Court from on-going proceedings, raises concerns as regards the principle of separation of powers and may affect judicial independence[51];

19. Recalls that the Court of Justice, in its judgment of 24 June 2019[52], found that lowering the retirement age of sitting judges of the Supreme Court is contrary to Union law and breaches the principle of the irremovability of judges and thus that of judicial independence, after it had earlier granted the Commission’s request for interim measures on the matter by order of 17 December 2018[53]; notes that the Polish authorities passed the Act of 21 November 2018 amending the Act on the Supreme Court[54] in order to comply with the order of the Court of Justice, the only instance so far in which they undid changes to the legislative framework governing the justice system in connection with a decision by the Court of Justice;

The composition and functioning of the Disciplinary Chamber and Extraordinary Chamber of the Supreme Court

20. Recalls that, in 2018, two new chambers within the Supreme Court were created, namely the Disciplinary Chamber and the Extraordinary Chamber, which were staffed with newly appointed judges selected by the new National Council of the Judiciary and entrusted with special powers – including the power of the Extraordinary Chamber to quash final judgments taken by lower courts or by the Supreme Court itself by way of extraordinary review, and the power of the Disciplinary Chamber to discipline other judges of the Supreme Court and of common courts, creating de facto a “Supreme Court within the Supreme Court”;[55]

21. Recalls that, in its ruling of 19 November 2019[56], the Court of Justice, answering a request for a preliminary ruling by the Supreme Court (Chamber of Labour Law and Social Insurance, hereinafter the ‘Labour Chamber’) concerning the Disciplinary Chamber, ruled that national courts have a duty to disregard provisions of national law which reserve jurisdiction to hear a case where Union law may be applied to a body that does not meet the requirements of independence and impartiality;

22. Notes that the referring Supreme Court (Labour Chamber) subsequently concluded in its judgment of 5 December 2019[57] that the Disciplinary Chamber does not fulfil the requirements of an independent and impartial tribunal within the meaning of Polish and Union law, and that the Supreme Court (Civil, Criminal and Labour Chambers) adopted a resolution on 23 January 2020[58] reiterating that the Disciplinary Chamber is not a court due to its lack of independence and therefore its judgments cannot be considered to be judgments given by a duly appointed court; notes with grave concern that the Polish authorities have declared that those decisions are of no legal significance when it comes to the continuing functioning of the Disciplinary Chamber and the new National Council of the Judiciary, and that the Constitutional Tribunal declared the Supreme Court resolution unconstitutional on 20 April 2020[59], creating a dangerous judiciary duality in Poland in open violation of the primacy of Union law and in particular of Article 19(1) TEU as interpreted by the Court of Justice in that it prevents the effectiveness and application of the Court of Justice’s ruling of 19 November 2019[60] by the Polish courts[61];

23. Notes the order of the Court of Justice of 8 April 2020[62] instructing Poland to immediately suspend the application of the national provisions on the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber and calls on the Polish authorities to swiftly implement the order; calls on the Polish authorities to fully comply with the order and calls on the Commission to submit an additional request to the Court of Justice seeking that payment of a fine be ordered in the event of persisting non-compliance; calls on the Commission to urgently start infringement proceedings in relation to the national provisions on the powers of the Extraordinary Chamber, since its composition suffers from the same flaws as the Disciplinary Chamber;

The composition and functioning of the new National Council of the Judiciary

24. Recalls that it is up to the Member States to establish a council for the judiciary, but that, where such council is established, its independence must be guaranteed in line with European standards and the Member State’s constitution; recalls that, following the reform of the National Council of the Judiciary, which is the body responsible for safeguarding the independence of the courts and judges in accordance with Article 186(1) of the Polish Constitution, by means of the Act of 8 December 2017 amending the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary and certain other acts[63], the judicial community in Poland was deprived of the power to delegate representatives to the National Council of the Judiciary, and hence its influence on recruitment and promotion of judges; recalls that before the reform, 15 out of 25 members of the National Council of the Judiciary were judges elected by their peers, while since the 2017 reform, those judges are elected by the Polish parliament; strongly regrets that, taken in conjunction with the premature termination in early 2018 of the mandates of all the members appointed under the old rules, this measure led to a far-reaching politicisation of the National Council of the Judiciary[64];

25. Recalls that the Supreme Court, implementing the criteria set out by the Court of Justice in its judgment of 19 November 2019, found in its judgment of 5 December 2019 and in its decisions of 15 January 2020[65], as well as in its resolution of 23 January 2020, that the decisive role of the new National Council of the Judiciary in the selection of the judges of the newly created Disciplinary Chamber undermines the latter’s independence and impartiality[66]; is concerned about the legal status of the judges appointed or promoted by the new National Council of the Judiciary in its current composition and about the impact their participation in adjudicating may have on the validity and legality of proceedings;

26.  Recalls that the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary suspended the new National Council of the Judiciary on 17 September 2018 because it no longer fulfilled the requirements of being independent of the executive and legislature and initiated the expulsion procedure in April 2020[67];

27. Calls on the Commission to start infringement proceedings regarding the Act of 12 May 2011 on the National Council of the Judiciary[68], as amended on 8 December 2017, and to ask the Court of Justice to suspend the activities of the new National Council of the Judiciary by way of interim measures;

The rules governing the organisation of the common courts and the appointment of courts presidents and the retirement regime for judges of the common courts

28. Regrets that the Minister of Justice, who is, in the Polish system, also the Prosecutor General, obtained the power to appoint and dismiss court presidents of the lower courts at his discretion during a transitional period of 6 months, and that in the 2017-2018 period, the Minister of Justice replaced over 150 court presidents and vice-presidents; notes that, after this period, the removal of court presidents remained in the hands of the Minister of Justice, with virtually no effective checks attached to that power; notes, furthermore, that the Minister of Justice also obtained other “disciplinary” powers vis-à-vis court presidents, and presidents of higher courts, who in turn, now have large administrative powers vis-à-vis presidents of lower courts[69]; regrets this major setback for the rule of law and judicial independence in Poland[70];

29. Regrets that the Act of 20 December 2019 that entered into force on 14 February 2020 changed the composition of the assemblies of judges and moved some of the powers of those bodies of judicial self-government to the colleges of courts presidents appointed by the Minister of Justice[71];

30. Recalls that, in its judgement of 5 November 2019[72], the Court of Justice found that the provisions of the Act of 12 July 2017 amending the Act on the organisation of the common courts and certain other acts[73], which lowered the retirement age of judges of the common courts, whilst allowing the Minister of Justice to decide on the prolongation of their active service, and which set a different retirement age depending on their gender, were contrary to Union law;

The rights and independence of judges, including the new disciplinary regime for judges

31.  Denounces the new provisions introducing further disciplinary offences and sanctions in respect of judges and court presidents because they pose a serious risk to judicial independence[74]; denounces the new provisions prohibiting any political activity of judges, obliging judges to disclose publicly their membership in associations and restricting substantively the deliberations of judicial self-governing bodies, which go beyond the principles of legal certainty, necessity and proportionality in restricting the judges’ freedom of expression[75];

32. Is deeply concerned by the disciplinary proceedings initiated against judges and prosecutors in Poland in connection with their judicial decisions applying Union law or public statements in defence of judicial independence and the rule of law in Poland; condemns the smear campaign against Polish judges and the involvement of public officials therein; calls on the Polish authorities to refrain from the abusive use of disciplinary proceedings and from other activities undermining the authority of the judiciary;

33. Calls on the Polish authorities to remove the new provisions (on disciplinary offences and other) that prevent the courts from examining questions of independence and impartiality of other judges from the standpoint of Union law and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), hence depriving judges from exercising their duty under Union law to set aside national provisions conflicting with Union law[76]; 

34.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiation of infringement proceedings in relation to the aforementioned new provisions; calls on the Commission to request the Court of Justice to use the expedited procedure and to grant interim measures, when it comes to a referral of the case to the Court of Justice;

The status of the Prosecutor General and the organisation of the prosecution services

35. Denounces the merger of the office of the Minister of Justice and that of the Prosecutor General, the increased powers of the Prosecutor General vis-à-vis the prosecution system, the increased powers of the Minister of Justice in respect of the judiciary (Act of 27 July 2001 on the organisation of common courts[77], as amended) and the weak position of checks on those powers (National Council of Public Prosecutors), which result in the accumulation of too many powers for one person and have direct negative consequences for the independence of the prosecutorial system from the political sphere, as stated by the Venice Commission[78];

36. Recalls that, in its judgement of 5 November 2019, the Court of Justice found that lowering the retirement age of public prosecutors was contrary to Union law because it established a different retirement age for male and female public prosecutors in Poland;

Overall assessment of the rule of law situation in Poland

37. Concurs with the Commission, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Group of States against Corruption and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers that the aforementioned separate changes to the legislative framework governing the judicial system, considering their interaction and overall impact, amount to a serious, sustained and systemic breach of the rule of law, enabling the legislative and executive powers to interfere throughout the entire structure and output of the justice system in a manner which is incompatible with the principles of separation of powers and the rule of law, thereby significantly weakening the independence of the judiciary in Poland[79]; condemns the destabilising impact on the Polish legal order of the measures taken and appointments made by the Polish authorities since 2016;

Protection of fundamental rights in Poland

The Polish Commissioner for Human Rights

38. Is concerned about political attacks on the independence of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights[80]; highlights the fact that the Commissioner for Human Rights has been publicly critical, within his area of responsibility, of various measures taken by the current government; recalls the fact that the statute of the Commissioner for Human Rights is enshrined in the Polish Constitution and that the term of office of the current Commissioner for Human Rights is due to end in September 2020;

The right to a fair trial

39. Is concerned about reports alleging undue delays in court proceedings, difficulties in accessing legal assistance during arrest, and instances of insufficient respect for the confidentiality of communication between counsel and client[81]; calls on the Commission to closely monitor the situation regarding lawyers in Poland; recalls the right of all citizens to be advised, defended and represented by an independent lawyer in accordance with Articles 47 and 48 of the Charter;

40. Is concerned that, since the entry into force on 14 February 2020 of the Act of 20 December 2019, only the Extraordinary Chamber, whose independence and impartiality itself is in question, can decide whether a judge, tribunal or court is independent and impartial, hence depriving citizens of an important element of judicial review at all other instances[82]; recalls the fact that following the case law of the Court of Justice, the right to a fair trial obliges every court to check, on its own initiative, whether it fulfils the criteria of independence and impartiality[83];

The right to information and freedom of expression, including media freedom and pluralism

41. Reiterates that media freedom and media pluralism are inseparable from democracy and the rule of law and that the right to inform and the right to be informed are part of the basic democratic values on which Union is founded; recalls that, in its resolution of 16 January 2020, Parliament called on the Council to address in the hearings under Article 7(1) TEU any new developments in the field of freedom of expression, including media freedom;

42. Recalls that, in its resolution of 14 September 2016, Parliament expressed its concern about previously adopted and newly suggested changes to Polish media law; repeats its call on the Commission to carry out an assessment of the legislation adopted as regards its compatibility with Union law, in particular with Article 11 of the Charter and Union law on public media;

43. Expresses its serious concerns about actions carried out in recent years by the Polish authorities in relation to the public broadcaster, including a re-shaping of the public broadcaster into a pro-government broadcaster, preventing public media and their governing bodies from expressing independent or dissenting voices and exercising control over broadcasting content[84]; recalls the fact that Article 54 of the Polish Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and forbids censorship;

44. Is deeply concerned by the excessive use of defamation cases by some politicians against journalists, including by imposing criminal fines and suspending journalists from exercising their profession; fears that there will be a chilling effect on the profession and independence of journalists and media[85]; calls on the Polish authorities to guarantee access to appropriate legal remedies for journalists and their families who become the subject of lawsuits intended to silence or intimidate independent media; calls on the Polish authorities to fully implement the Council of Europe’s Recommendation of 13 April 2016 on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors[86]; regrets that so far the Commission has not come up with the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) legislation that would also protect Polish journalists and media from vexatious lawsuits;

45. Is concerned about reported cases of detention of journalists for doing their job when reporting on anti-lockdown protests during the COVID-19 epidemic[87];

Academic freedom

46. Expresses concern over the use and threat of defamation litigation against academics; calls on the Polish authorities to respect freedom of speech and academic freedom, in line with international standards;[88]

47. Calls on the Polish parliament to repeal Chapter 6c of the Act of 18 December 1998 on the Institute of National Remembrance – Committee for the Prosecution of the Crimes against the Polish Nation[89], which jeopardises freedom of speech and independent research by rendering it a civil offense that is actionable before civil courts to cause harm to the reputation of Poland and its people, such as by making any accusation of complicity of Poland or Poles in the Holocaust[90];

Freedom of assembly

48. Reiterates its call on the Polish government to respect the right of freedom of assembly by removing from the current Act of 24 July 2015 on public assemblies[91], as amended on 13 December 2016[92], the provisions prioritising government-approved ‘cyclical’ assemblies[93]; urges the Polish authorities to refrain from applying criminal sanctions to people who participate in peaceful assemblies or counter-demonstrations and to drop criminal charges against peaceful protesters; urges the Polish authorities moreover to adequately protect peaceful assemblies and bring to justice those who violently attack people participating in peaceful assemblies;

49. Is concerned about the very restrictive ban on public assemblies[94] which was in force during the COVID-19 pandemic without the introduction of a state of natural disaster as laid down in Article 232 of the Polish Constitution and insists on the need to apply the principle of proportionality when restricting the right to assembly;

Freedom of association

50. Calls on the Polish authorities to modify the Act of 15 September 2017 on the National Institute for Freedom - Centre for the Development of Civil Society[95],[96] in order to ensure access to state funding for critical civil society groups at local, regional and national levels, and a fair, impartial and transparent distribution of public funds to civil society, ensuring pluralistic representation[97]; reiterates its call for adequate funding to be made available for the organisations concerned through different funding instruments at Union level, such as the Union values strand of the new Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme and Union pilot projects; is deeply concerned that Polish Members of the European Economic and Social Committee are facing political pressure for the actions taken in the remit of their mandate[98];

Privacy and data protection

51. Reiterates its conclusion set out in its resolution of 14 September 2016 that the procedural safeguards and material conditions laid down in the Act of 10 June 2016 on anti-terrorist actions and the Act of 6 April 1990 on the police[99], as amended, for the implementation of secret surveillance are not sufficient to prevent its excessive use or unjustified interference with the privacy and data protection of individuals, including of opposition and civil society leaders[100]; repeats its call on the Commission to carry out an assessment of that legislation as regards its compatibility with Union Law, and urges Polish authorities to fully respect the privacy of all citizens;

52. Is deeply concerned about the fact that the Ministry of Digital Affairs of Poland transferred personal data from the Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population (hereinafter the ‘PESEL register’) to the postal services operator on 22 April 2020, in order to facilitate the organisation of the presidential elections on 10 May 2020 via postal ballot, without a proper legal basis to do so, as  the Polish parliament did not adopt a bill allowing for an all-postal election until 7 May 2020; notes, furthermore, that the PESEL register is not identical to the electoral register and also includes the personal data of citizens of other Member States, and that, therefore, the above-mentioned transfer could constitute a potential breach of Regulation (EU) 2016/679; recalls that the European Data Protection Board stated that public authorities may disclose information on individuals included in electoral lists, but only when this is specifically authorised by national law[101]; notes that the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights filed a complaint with the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw on the basis of a possible breach of Articles 7 and 51 of the Polish Constitution by the Ministry of Digital Affairs of Poland;

Comprehensive sexuality education

53. Reiterates its deep concern expressed in its resolution of 14 November 2019, also shared by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights[102], over the draft law amending Article 200b of the Polish Penal Code, as submitted to the Polish parliament by the ‘Stop Paedophilia’ initiative, for its extremely vague, broad and disproportionate provisions, which de facto seek to criminalise the dissemination of sexual education to minors and whose scope potentially threatens all persons, in particular parents, teachers and sex educators, with up to three years in prison for teaching about human sexuality, health and intimate relations; 

54. Stresses that age-appropriate and evidence-based comprehensive sexuality and relationship education is key to building young peoples’ skills to form healthy, equal, nurturing and safe relationships, free from discrimination, coercion and violence; believes that comprehensive sexuality education also has a positive impact on gender equality outcomes, including transforming harmful gender norms and attitudes towards gender-based violence, helping prevent intimate partner violence and sexual coercion, homophobia and transphobia, breaking the silence around sexual violence, sexual exploitation or abuse, and empowering young people to seek help; calls on the Polish parliament to refrain from adopting the proposed draft law amending Article 200b of the Polish Penal Code and strongly invites the Polish authorities to ensure access to scientifically accurate and comprehensive sexuality education for all school children in line with international standards and that those who provide such education and information are supported in so doing in a factual and objective manner;

Sexual and reproductive health and rights

55. Recalls that, in accordance with the Charter, the ECHR and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights, including the right to life and dignity, freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, the right of access to health care, the right to privacy, the right to education and the prohibition of discrimination, as is also reflected in the Polish Constitution; recalls that Parliament strongly criticised, in its resolution of 15 November 2017, any legislative proposal that would prohibit abortion in cases of severe or fatal foetal impairment, thereby drastically limiting and coming close to banning in practice access to abortion care in Poland as most legal abortions are performed under that ground[103], and emphasised that universal access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare and the associated rights, is a fundamental human right[104]; regrets the proposed amendments[105] to the Act of 5 December 1996 on doctors’ and dentists’ professions[106], under which doctors would no longer be legally obliged to indicate an alternative facility or practitioner in case of denial of sexual and reproductive health services due to personal beliefs; is concerned about the use of the conscience clause including the absence of reliable referral mechanisms and lack of timely appeals for women who are denied such services; calls on the Polish parliament to refrain from any further attempts to restrict women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights; strongly affirms that the denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights services is a form of violence against women and girls; calls on the Polish authorities to take measures to implement fully the judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Poland, which has ruled on several occasions that restrictive abortion laws and lack of implementation violates the human rights of women[107];

56. Recalls that previous attempts to further limit the right to abortion, which in Poland is already among the most restricted in the Union, were halted in 2016 and 2018 as a result of mass opposition from Polish citizens as expressed in the ‘Black Marches’; strongly invites the Polish authorities to consider repealing the law limiting women’s and girls’ access to the emergency contraceptive pill;

Hate speech, public discrimination, violence against women, domestic violence and intolerant behaviour against minorities and other vulnerable groups, including LGBTI persons

57. Urges the Polish authorities to take all necessary measures to firmly combat racist hate speech and incitement to violence, online and offline, and publicly condemn and distance itself from racist hate speech by public figures, including politicians and media officials[108], to address prejudices and negative sentiments towards national and ethnic minorities (including Roma), migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and to ensure effective enforcement of the laws outlawing parties or organisations that promote or incite racial discrimination[109]; calls on the Polish authorities to comply with the 2019 recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination[110];

58. Is deeply concerned by the Polish Deputy Minister of Justice’s recent declaration that Poland should denounce the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention); encourages the Polish authorities to give practical and effective application to that Convention, including by ensuring application of the existing legislation across the country, as well as the provision of a sufficient number and quality of shelters for women who are victims of violence and their children;

59. Notes that the May 2020 LGBTI Survey II conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights highlights an increase in intolerance and violence in Poland towards LGBTI persons and complete disbelief in the government’s combat against prejudice and intolerance by Polish LGBTI respondents, recording the lowest percentage across the Union (only 4 %), and the highest percentage of respondents avoiding going to certain places for fear of being assaulted, harassed or threatened (79 %);

60. Recalls, also in the context of the 2020 presidential campaign, its stance as expressed in its resolution of 18 December 2019, when it strongly denounced any discrimination against LGBTI people and the violation of their fundamental rights by public authorities, including hate speech by public authorities and elected officials, the banning of and inadequate protection against attacks on Pride marches and awareness-raising programmes, the declarations of zones in Poland free from so-called ‘LGBT ideology’ and the adoption of ‘Regional Charters of Family Rights’, discriminating in particular against single-parent and LGBTI families; notes the lack of any improvement in the situation of LGBTI persons in Poland since the adoption of that resolution and that mental health and physical safety of Polish LGBTI people are particularly at risk; recalls the condemnation of such actions by the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, who filed nine complaints to administrative courts arguing that the LGBTI-free zones violate Union law, and by the Commission and international organisations; recalls that spending under cohesion funds must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and that municipalities acting as employers must respect Council Directive 2000/78/EC[111], which prohibits discrimination and harassment on the ground of sexual orientation in employment[112]; calls on the Polish authorities to implement the relevant case law of the Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights and in that context to address the situation of same sex spouses and parents with a view to ensuring their enjoyment of the right to non-discrimination in law and in fact[113]; condemns the law suits against the civil society activists who published the so-called “Atlas of Hate” that documents cases of homophobia in Poland; strongly invites the Polish government to ensure the legal protection of LGBTI people against all forms of hate crime and hate speech;****

61. Notes that the lack of independence of the judiciary in Poland has already begun affecting mutual trust between Poland and other Member States, especially in the field of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, given that national courts have refused or hesitated to release Polish suspects under the European Arrest Warrant procedure due to profound doubts about the independence of the Polish judiciary; considers the threat to the uniformity of the Union legal order posed by the deterioration of the rule of law in Poland to be particularly serious; points out that mutual trust between the Member States can be restored only once respect for the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU is ensured;

62. Calls on the Polish government to comply with all provisions relating to the rule of law and fundamental rights enshrined in the Treaties, the Charter, the ECHR and international human rights standards, and to engage in an honest dialogue with the Commission; stresses that such dialogue needs to be conducted in an impartial, evidence-based and cooperative manner; calls on the Polish government to cooperate with the Commission pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation as set out in the TEU; calls on the Polish government to swiftly and fully implement the rulings of the Court of Justice and to respect the primacy of Union law;

63.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to refrain from narrowly interpreting the principle of the rule of law, and to use the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU to its full potential by addressing the implications of the Polish government’s action for all the principles enshrined in Article 2 TEU, including democracy and fundamental rights as highlighted in this report;

64. Calls on the Council to resume the formal hearings - the last of which was held as long ago as December 2018 - as soon as possible and to include in those hearings all the latest and major negative developments in the areas of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights; urges the Council to finally act under the Article 7(1) TEU procedure by finding that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU, in the light of overwhelming evidence thereof as displayed in this resolution and in so many reports of international and European organisations, the case law of the Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights and reports by civil society organisations; strongly recommends that the Council address concrete recommendations to Poland, as provided for in Article 7(1) TEU, as a follow‑up to the hearings, and that it indicate deadlines for the implementation of those recommendations; calls furthermore on the Council to commit to assessing the implementation of these recommendations in a timely manner; calls on the Council to keep Parliament regularly informed and closely involved and to work in a transparent manner, to allow for meaningful participation and oversight by all European institutions and bodies and by civil society organisations;

65. Calls on the Commission to make full use of the tools available to it, to address a clear risk of a serious breach by Poland of the values on which the Union is founded, in particular expedited infringement procedures and applications for interim measures before the Court of Justice, as well as budgetary tools; calls on the Commission to continue to keep Parliament regularly informed and closely involved;

66. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission and to the President, government and parliament of the Republic of Poland, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

 

 

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

1. Institutional background

The European Union is founded and guided by the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The European Parliament must defend without reservation the rule of law, including the principles of legality, which implies a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws; legal certainty; separation of powers; prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers; independent and impartial courts; effective judicial review including respect for fundamental rights; and equality before the law.

It must be borne in mind that the Parliament has repeatedly discussed the “Copenhagen dilemma”: it cannot be consistent with Union law and values that candidate states are examined on the grounds of respect of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights on their way into the Union, but that there is no further test as to the respect for those values once they have entered the Union. The values on which the Union is founded (Article 2 TEU) are not only requirements for accession to the Union, but are also binding once the country achieved full membership of the Union. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have a comprehensive rule of law toolbox to ensure the mandatory fulfilment of the above-mentioned values.

On 20 December 2017, the European Commission issued its reasoned proposal based on Article 7(1) TEU for a Council decision on the determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the republic of Poland of the rule of law. The Article 7(1) TEU procedure constitutes a preventive phase endowing the Union with the capacity to intervene in the event of a clear risk of a serious breach of the common values. So far, the General Affairs Council has held three hearings of Poland, all concentrated in 2018. Since then, the Commission has provided updates on the rule of law situation in Poland within the Council, but no further hearings were organised.

In parallel to the triggering of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure in relation to Poland, the Commission has launched four infringements procedures against Poland in relation to the judicial reforms, two of which have led to a judgments of the CJEU finding violations of the principle of effective judicial protection as laid down in Article 19(1) TEU.

The European Parliament expressed its concerns regarding the rule of law situation in Poland in several resolutions adopted during the past years. Those concerns relate to the functioning of the legislative and electoral system; the independence of the judiciary and the rights of judges; and the protection of fundamental rights, including rights of persons belonging to minorities.

Since the situation of the rule of law in Poland has not only not been addressed but has seriously deteriorated since the triggering of the Article 7(1) TEU, the Rapporteur emphasizes the importance of this interim report, which aims to

 take stock of the developments as regards the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in Poland since 2015;

 urge the Commission and the Council to widen the scope of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure to include clear risks of serious breaches of democracy and fundamental rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities;

 call on the Polish authorities, the Council and the Commission to each act swiftly within their own competences to tackle this severe rule of law crisis.

The Rapporteur took the task of conducting an in-depth analysis and took into consideration the opinions issued by European and international organisations, such as the bodies of the Council of Europe, the OSCE/ODIHR, and the United Nations, and judgments by national, European and international courts. The Rapporteur wants this report to be based on facts as analysed by trustful institutions and organisations, to which Poland is a party and/or of which it accepted the standards and ways of working.

The LIBE Committee also organised a mission to Warsaw in September 2018, where the delegation met with representatives of the Polish Government, the Sejm and the Senate, political parties, judicial institutions, representatives of the OSCE/ODIHR, legal practitioners, journalists and representatives of civil society, and held two hearings, in 2018 and 2020, to assess the rule of law situation in Poland. The Rapporteur conducted further meetings with different stakeholders (NGOs, scholars, journalists, judges, …) and members of the Polish government in order to hear directly from those who are facing the situation on the ground (see legislative footprint in annex).

 

2. Taking stock of the developments as regards the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in Poland since 2015

- The independence of the judiciary and the rights of judges

As regards the rule of law in the strict sense of independence of the judiciary, the situation in Poland is far from improving and concerns remain or increase in every aspect exposed in this report: the politicization of the Polish Constitutional Court as early as in 2015; the composition and behaviour of the new National Council of the Judiciary; the tight grip of the Minister of Justice, who is also the Prosecutor-General, on the prosecution services; the creation of the disciplinary chamber and the chamber of extraordinary appeal inside the Supreme Court; the systematic intimidation of judges and disciplinary proceedings against judges who speak out on these reforms.

Recently, on 29 April 2020, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure on the so called ‘muzzle law’. This new law on the judiciary, which entered into force on 14 February 2020 is clearly incompatible with the primacy of EU law in that it deprives judges from exercising their duties under Union law to put aside national provisions conflicting with Union law. Major concerns regarding this law also include the introduction of further disciplinary offences and sanctions against judges and court presidencies, which risk to undermine the principle of judicial independence and moreover their freedom of expression and association by prohibiting any political activity and obliging to disclose publicly their membership in associations.

During the LIBE mission and exchanges of views with the Polish Minister of Justice and Deputy Minister of Justice, the Polish authorities cited as reasons for the profound reorganisation of its justice system since 2015 citizens’ dissatisfaction with the speed and efficiency of the administration of justice, alleged corruption and crimes or misdemeanours of individual judges that were left unpunished, and the need to decommunise the judiciary.[114] The Rapporteur insists that the reasons cited do not justify the firm grip of the executive on the judiciary as a result of the reforms. Alleged cases of corruption or crime are to be prosecuted on an individual basis and the European Court of Human Rights has clearly underlined that also a lustration process must be individualised and may moreover be less justified if taking place long after the end of the communist regime.[115]

- The functioning of the legislative and electoral system

Furthermore, the Rapporteur was concerned about the organisation of presidential elections during this specific time of an epidemic, which entailed a clear risk that equal, direct and secret elections as enshrined in the Polish Constitution could not be fulfilled, based on a fair election campaign with equal access to the media. According to OSCE/ODIHR observers, both candidates in Poland’s presidential run-off were eventually able to campaign freely, while hostility as well as biased coverage by the public broadcaster tarnished the election. Negative campaigning and mutual vilification abounded, while reports of threats against politicians and journalists were of serious concern. As in the first round, the incumbent’s campaign and coverage by the public broadcaster were marked by homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric.[116]

- The protection of fundamental rights, including rights of persons belonging to minorities

Sexual and reproductive health and rights are under threat in Poland. The proposed ban on the termination of pregnancy due to severe or fatal foetal anomalies would further tighten an already restrictive abortion law and therefore would result in a nearly complete ban on abortion. In addition, the draft bill to criminalise sexual education to minors has raised serious concerns within the European Parliament as well as with other international bodies and civil society organizations. While it was difficult for civil society to get organised on such themes during the Covid-19 outbreak, the Polish parliament voted on amendments to the Act of 5 December 1996 on doctors and dentists professions, under which doctors would no longer be legally obliged to indicate an alternative facility or practitioner in case of denial of sexual and reproductive health services due to personal beliefs.

Furthermore, the level of protection of minorities is seriously worrisome, as well as of women’s rights and rights of people identifying as LGBTI, while Member States have the duty to protect the moral and physical integrity of all citizens. The Rapporteur strongly deplores to see some areas in the European Union declaring themselves free from ideologies which do not even exist.

Several more fundamental rights concerns are being addressed in the report, including regarding the right to a fair trial, media and academic freedom, freedom of assembly and association and the right to privacy protection.

3. Widening of the scope of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure

The Rapporteur wants this interim report to give a new impulse in the Article 7(1) TEU procedure, by including not only the most recent controversial changes to the Polish judicial system, but by including an analysis of the situation of democracy and fundamental rights in Poland, which require specific attention.

4. Call for action by the Polish authorities, the Council and the Commission

The Rapporteur calls on the Polish Government to comply with all provisions relating to the rule of law and fundamental rights enshrined in the Treaties, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Convention on Human Right and international human rights standards, to swiftly implement the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union and to respect the primacy of Union law and to engage directly in dialogue with the Commission.

The Rapporteur is concerned with the passiveness of the Council in addressing the situation of the Rule of Law in Poland, and calls upon the Member States to resume the formal hearings as soon as possible in order to include all the latest and major negative developments in the areas of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. More importantly, the Rapporteur calls upon the Council to finally act under the Article 7(1) TEU procedure by finding that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law, in the light of overwhelming evidence thereof as displayed in this resolution and in so many reports of international and European organisations, the case-law of the the Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights and reports by civil society organisations, and to address recommendations to Poland under the Article 7(1) TEU procedure.

Finally, the Commission is called upon to make full use of the tools available to address a clear risk of a serious breach by Poland of the values on which the Union is founded, in particular expedited infringement procedures and applications for interim measures before the Court of Justice.

 


 

ANNEX: LIST OF ENTITIES OR PERSONS FROM WHOM THE RAPPORTEUR HAS RECEIVED INPUT

<FootprintIntro>The following list is drawn up on a purely voluntary basis under the exclusive responsibility of the rapporteur. The rapporteur has received input from the following entities or persons in the preparation of the report, until the adoption thereof in committee:</FootprintIntro>

Entity and/or person

Aborcyjny Dream Team

Amnesty International (AI)

Austrian Bar

Campaign Against Homophobia

Civil Development Forum (FOR)

Commissioner for Human Rights, Poland

Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

European Association of Judges (EAJ)

European Commission

Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Government of the Republic of Poland

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

IUSTITIA, Polish judges association

 

Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR)

Polish Journalists Association (SDP)

Prof. Ewa Łętowska, Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Prof. Laurent Pech, Middlesex University London

Society of Journalists

 

 


 

 

 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUALITY (6.7.2020)

<CommissionInt>for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs</CommissionInt>


<Titre>on the determination of a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law by the Republic of Poland</Titre>

<DocRef>(2017/0360R(NLE))</DocRef>

Rapporteur for opinion: <Depute>Evelyn Regner</Depute>

 

 

PA_Consent_Interim

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its report:

 having regard to the issue paper of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights of December 2017 entitled ‘Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe’,

 having regard to the European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2019 on the criminalisation of sexual education in Poland[117],

 having regard to the 2019 recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights and the WHO Regional Office for Europe publication entitled ‘Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe. A framework for policy-makers, educational and health authorities and specialists’,

 having regard to the European Parliament resolution of 13 February 2019 on experiencing a backlash in women’s rights and gender equality in the EU[118],

 having regard to the results of the LGBTI Survey II carried out by the Fundamental Rights Agency, which highlight an increase in intolerance and violence in Poland against LGBTI people, with Polish LGBTI respondents demonstrating total disbelief in the government’s fight against prejudice and intolerance, with the lowest percentage in the whole EU (only 4 %), and where Poland has the highest percentage of respondents avoiding certain places for fear of being assaulted, harassed or threatened (79 %),

 having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’), in particular Articles 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 21, 35 and 45 thereof,

 having regard to Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), on the founding values of the Union, and Article 7 TEU, on determining the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2,

 having regard to Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), on equality between women and men, and Article 9 of the TFEU, on combating social exclusion and a high level of education, training and protection of human health, Title IV of the TFEU on free movement of persons, services and capitals and Title V of the TFEU on area of freedom, security and justice,

A. whereas Article 35 of the Charter stipulates that ‘everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices’ and lays down the objective of ‘a high level of human health protection’; whereas the provision of accessible and affordable sexual and reproductive health and rights, including contraception and safe and legal abortion, is related to multiple human rights, including the right to life and dignity, protection against inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to access healthcare, the right to privacy, the right to education and the prohibition of discrimination; whereas the denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights contravenes the rulings of the UN Human Rights Committee and the ECHR;

B. whereas the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as set out in Article 2 of the TEU and enshrined in international human rights treaties; whereas those values, which are common to the Member States and to which all Member States have freely subscribed, constitute the basis of the rights enjoyed by persons living in the Union; whereas Article 7 of the TEU provides for the possibility of suspending certain rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to a Member State, including voting rights in the Council, where a Member State has been found to have committed a serious and persistent breach by of the values referred to in Article 2;

C. whereas two draft laws stemming from citizens’ initiatives are before the Polish Parliament, one of which, known as the ‘Stop Abortion’ bill, seeks to tighten up Poland’s Act of 1993 on ‘Family Planning, Protection of the Human Foetus and Conditions for Legal Pregnancy Termination’, which is already one of the most restrictive laws in the EU on abortion, in order to remove legal access in cases of severe or fatal foetal abnormality, fundamentally denying access to abortion; the other, known as the ‘Stop paedophilia’ bill to make providing sexual education to minors by teachers, health care workers and other education professionals a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment;

D. whereas comprehensive, age-appropriate and evidence-based sexuality education is key to building the capacities of children and young people to develop healthy, equal, nurturing and safe relationships and to have a positive impact on gender equality, including by transforming harmful gender norms and attitudes towards gender-based violence, homophobia and transphobia, to prevent discrimination and all forms of abuse and gender-based violence and to contribute to reducing teenage pregnancy, reducing risk-taking and increasing use of contraception;

E whereas the Sejm was legally obliged, within six months of taking up its duties, to consider draft laws stemming from citizens’ initiatives; whereas on 16 April 2020 the Polish Parliament voted to refer back to committee the two draft laws stemming from citizens’ initiatives on access to abortion and on sexual education for minors; whereas the dates on which the parliamentary committees will study the bills have not yet been announced;

F. whereas in 2016, 2018 and 2020 draft bills imposing restrictive anti-abortion measures or attempting to introduce an almost total ban on the right to abortion have caused mass protests by women and civil society organisations throughout the country and abroad, including the ‘Black Monday’ women’s strike of 2016; whereas, regrettably, since the beginning of 2019, over 80 regions, counties or municipalities have passed resolutions declaring themselves free from so-called ‘LGBT ideology’ or have adopted all or part of the ‘Regional Charters of Family Rights’, discriminating in particular against single‑parents and LGBTI parents and people and de facto restricting the freedom of movement of the EU citizens;

1. Welcomes the fact that, on 16 April 2020, the Polish Parliament did not adopt the two draft laws stemming from citizen’s initiatives on access to abortion and on the comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education for minors; regrets that the Polish Parliament did not flatly reject these two draft laws and objects to these bills being referred back to committee for further consideration given that each would undermine human rights; believes that the prospect of a possible future vote on these bills is a potential threat to the founding principles of the EU, as enshrined in Article 2 of the TEU, notably respect for human rights and human dignity, non-discrimination and equality, including equality between women and men as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and LGBTI rights and the work of civil society;

2. Calls on the Polish Government and the members of the Polish Parliament to halt consideration of these two draft laws, given that a vigorous, necessary and legitimate debate is under way in the country and throughout Europe in response to the moral issues and grievances they raise, and that the lives and fundamental rights of thousands of women, couples and families, children and adolescents, many of them among the youngest and most vulnerable in society, would be irreparably damaged, as would the lives and rights of sexual and reproductive health educators, including teachers, outreach workers, health care personnel and rights activists; is deeply concerned about repeated attempts to introduce, consider and reform legislation with the aim of restricting women’s rights and gender equality; urges members of the Polish Parliament to refrain from any further attempts to restrict the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and adolescents;

3. Regrets recent legislative proposals under which medical facilities would no longer be legally obliged to indicate an alternative facility in the event of refusal of an abortion by doctors on the basis of their personal beliefs; reiterates its concerns about the use of the conscience clause, including the lack of reliable referral mechanisms and the absence of timely recourse for women who are denied legal access to abortion; recalls that, under human rights law, doctors should not be allowed to undermine the women’s inalienable rights to timely access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and the right to life, health and privacy; calls on the Polish Government to comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights[119], which has ruled that obstacles to access legal abortion in practice violates human rights and, therefore, to include in the law a rule stipulating that, in the event of refusal, the medical facility must indicate another specialist or facility that will perform the abortion procedure; calls for the repeal of the law restricting women’s and girls’ access to the emergency contraception pill;

4 Strongly affirms that the denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights services is a form of violence against women and girls and recalls that the unavailability of scientifically accurate information violates the rights of individuals to make informed choices about their own SRHR;

5. Encourages the Polish authorities to implement the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention concretely and effectively, in particular by ensuring the application of existing legislation throughout the country and the provision of a sufficient number and quality of shelters for women victims of violence and their children;

6. Is concerned about the backlash from the loss of women’s rights, the trend towards shrinking space for civil society and the inadequate level of protection in Poland of the fundamental human right of women and adolescent girls to health, of which sexual and reproductive health and related rights, including the access to information and self‑determination, is an essential component protected by law at international level; is concerned also about the loss of rights of young LGBTI people, whose mental health and physical safety are particularly at risk due to the government’s continued attacks on activists and organisations through raids, defunding and intimidation;

7. Stresses that unhindered and timely access to reproductive health services and respect for women’s reproductive autonomy and decision-making are critical to protect women’s human rights and gender equality; recalls that international human rights bodies have repeatedly affirmed that highly restrictive abortion laws are contrary to human rights standards and must be reformed; recalls that Parliament has already strongly criticised, in its resolutions of 14 September 2016[120] and 15 November 2017[121], any legislative proposal that would prohibit abortion in cases of severe or fatal foetal impairment, thereby virtually banning access to abortion care in Poland as most legal abortions are performed on this ground;

8. Stresses that women who decide to terminate a pregnancy either travel to another country to obtain safe and legal abortion services or undergo potentially unsafe procedures at home and might risk their lives during these procedures, particularly poor women; reiterates that denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights services, including safe and legal abortion, is a form of violence against women and girls;

9. Strongly reiterates that access to comprehensive and age-appropriate information about sex, sexuality and access to sexual and reproductive health care, including sexual education, family planning, contraceptive methods and safe and legal abortion, are essential to create a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having sexual experiences free of risk, coercion, discrimination and violence;

10. Reiterates that young people must be empowered and protected through age-appropriate information about sex and sexuality and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare; Stresses that, instead of protecting young people, the lack of information and education about sex and sexuality jeopardises the safety and well-being of young people by making them vulnerable to sexual exploitation, abuse and violence, including girls and LGBTI youth, who are particularly impacted by gender inequality and social norms; calls for educators, doctors and carers to be supported, protected and encouraged to provide this information;

11. Recalls that education, in addition to being a stand-alone human right, is a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other fundamental rights and freedoms; recalls that Poland has a duty under international human rights law to provide comprehensive, compulsory, age‑appropriate, standardised, evidence‑based and scientifically accurate sexuality education; recalls that such education is a necessary part of the school curriculum in order to meet the World Health Organization’s standards for Europe to educate and protect young people; affirms that such education should encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual expression, relationships and consent, as well as information on negative outcomes or conditions such as STIs and HIV, unintended pregnancy, sexual violence and harmful practices such as grooming and female genital mutilation;

12. Calls on the Polish Government to urgently condemn and take appropriate legal measures against the resolutions adopted by regional and local authorities concerning the creation of ‘LGBT‑free areas’ in Poland, which violate fundamental rights and fuel more hatred, fear and threats against LGBTI+ people in Poland; recalls its resolution of 18 December 2019 on public discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI+ people, including LGBTI free zones[122]; urges the Polish Government to take steps to protect LGBTI+ people, to address all human rights violations and to guarantee the rights and freedoms of individuals and organisations in society representing the interests of women and LGBTI+ people;

13. Recalls that Article 7 of the TEU can be triggered where there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2; strongly believes that violations of the rights of women, LGBTI+ people and other minorities seriously breach the values of equality and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities enshrined in Article 2 of the TEU; calls on the Commission to monitor the situation in order to assess whether the creation of LGBTI‑free zones in one third of Polish municipalities, homophobic statements and other violations of minorities’ rights constitute a breach of Article 2 of the TEU, Article 3(2) of the TEU, Article 21 of the TFEU, Titles IV and V of the TFEU and Article 45 of the Charter; calls on the Commission to consequently examine a reasoned opinion in accordance with Article 258 of the TFEU and, in such a case, to consider launching the appropriate infringement procedure; urges the Commission to suspend further EU structural funding in the regions where it would have been used for anti‑LGBTI+ actions violating EU values; calls on the Council to address these issues in the context of its current hearing on the situation in Poland;

14. Calls on the Polish Government to include sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics as a protected personal characteristic in the Criminal Code to ensure the rights of all LGBTI+ people in Poland;

15. Calls for comprehensive sexuality, age‑appropriate and anti‑discrimination education in accordance with international standards in Poland in order to combat homophobia, discriminatory attitudes, gender stereotypes and myths about sexuality and reproductive health; calls on the Polish government to ensure that young people have access to comprehensive, age‑appropriate, evidence‑based sexuality and anti‑discrimination education in the school curriculum, in accordance with European and international standards, and to ensure that qualified teachers or educators are supported in order to provide such education in a factual and objective manner; calls on the Polish authorities to refrain from adopting a policy that runs counter to these objectives, and from taking any disciplinary action against or stigmatising teachers and educators for their teachings related to sexuality and anti-discrimination;

16. Calls on the Polish Government to comply with the recommendations made by the European Parliament in its resolution of 14 November 2019 on the criminalisation of sexual education in Poland[123], as well as those of the Council of Europe and the WHO;

17. Believes that Parliament’s consent to the MFF 2021-2027, which includes the Rights and Values programme, should be conditional on adherence to the values of the European Union; reiterates its call for a mechanism to protect the Union budget in the event of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States and is prepared not to give its consent to the MFF if political agreement is not reached on such a mechanism; calls on the Polish authorities to ensure adequate funding by means of EU-level instruments such as the MFF and other pilot projects to make the MFF available to fundamental rights organisations, including women’s rights and LGBTI+ organisations, and to address the increasing bureaucratisation and funding restrictions on fundamental rights organisations, including women’s rights organisations and activists.


PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Title

Determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law

References

2017/0360R(NLE)

Committee responsible

 

LIBE

 

 

 

 

Opinion by

 Date announced in plenary

FEMM

27.5.2020

Rapporteur

 Date appointed

Evelyn Regner

27.4.2020

Date adopted

3.7.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

24

6

3

 


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

24

+

RE

Abir Al‑Sahlani, Samira Rafaela, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Hilde Vautmans, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou

GUE/NGL

Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, Elena Kountoura

EPP

Frances Fitzgerald, Cindy Franssen, Arba Kokalari, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Christine Schneider, Elissavet Vozemberg‑Vrionidi

S&D

Robert Biedroń, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Heléne Fritzon, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Maria Noichl, Pina Picierno, Evelyn Regner

GREENS/EFA

Terry Reintke, Diana Riba i Giner, Ernest Urtasun, Alice Kuhnke

 

6

-

ID

Christine Anderson, Simona Baldassarre, Annika Bruna, Isabella Tovaglieri

ECR

Margarita de la Pisa Carrión, Jadwiga Wiśniewska

 

3

0

EPP

Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Lívia Járóka

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

- : against

0 : abstention

 


PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Title

Determination of a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law

References

2017/0360R(NLE)

Date of consultation / request for consent

7.5.2020

 

 

 

Committee responsible

 Date announced in plenary

LIBE

27.5.2020

 

 

 

Committees asked for opinions

 Date announced in plenary

AFCO

27.5.2020

FEMM

27.5.2020

 

 

Not delivering opinions

 Date of decision

AFCO

8.6.2020

 

 

 

Rapporteurs

 Date appointed

Juan Fernando López Aguilar

14.10.2019

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

13.7.2020

14.7.2020

 

 

Date adopted

16.7.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

52

15

0

Members present for the final vote

Magdalena Adamowicz, Konstantinos Arvanitis, Katarina Barley, Pietro Bartolo, Nicolas Bay, Vladimír Bilčík, Vasile Blaga, Ioan-Rareş Bogdan, Saskia Bricmont, Joachim Stanisław Brudziński, Jorge Buxadé Villalba, Damien Carême, Caterina Chinnici, Clare Daly, Marcel de Graaff, Lena Düpont, Laura Ferrara, Nicolaus Fest, Jean-Paul Garraud, Sylvie Guillaume, Andrzej Halicki, Balázs Hidvéghi, Evin Incir, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Patryk Jaki, Lívia Járóka, Marina Kaljurand, Fabienne Keller, Peter Kofod, Moritz Körner, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Nuno Melo, Roberta Metsola, Nadine Morano, Javier Moreno Sánchez, Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Nicola Procaccini, Emil Radev, Paulo Rangel, Terry Reintke, Diana Riba i Giner, Ralf Seekatz, Michal Šimečka, Martin Sonneborn, Sylwia Spurek, Tineke Strik, Ramona Strugariu, Annalisa Tardino, Tomas Tobé, Milan Uhrík, Tom Vandendriessche, Bettina Vollath, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Elena Yoncheva, Javier Zarzalejos

Substitutes present for the final vote

Abir Al-Sahlani, Bartosz Arłukowicz, Malin Björk, Delara Burkhardt, Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Nathalie Loiseau, Erik Marquardt, Sira Rego, Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Paul Tang, Hilde Vautmans, Tomáš Zdechovský

Date tabled

20.7.2020

 


 

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

52

+

EPP

Magdalena Adamowicz, Bartosz Arłukowicz, Vladimír Bilčík, Vasile Blaga, Ioan-Rareş Bogdan, Lena Düpont, Andrzej Halicki, Nuno Melo, Roberta Metsola, Nadine Morano, Emil Radev, Paulo Rangel, Ralf Seekatz, Tomas Tobé, Javier Zarzalejos, Tomáš Zdechovský

S&D

Katarina Barley, Pietro Bartolo, Delara Burkhardt, Caterina Chinnici, Sylvie Guillaume, Evin Incir, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Marina Kaljurand, Javier Moreno Sánchez, Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Sylwia Spurek, Paul Tang, Bettina Vollath, Elena Yoncheva

RENEW

Abir Al‑Sahlani, Sophia in 't Veld, Fabienne Keller, Moritz Körner, Nathalie Loiseau, Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Michal Šimečka, Ramona Strugariu, Hilde Vautmans

GREENS/EFA

Saskia Bricmont, Damien Carême, Gwendoline Delbos‑Corfield, Erik Marquardt, Terry Reintke, Diana Riba i Giner, Tineke Strik

GUE/NGL

Konstantinos Arvanitis, Malin Björk, Clare Daly, Sira Rego

NI

Laura Ferrara, Martin Sonneborn

 

15

-

EPP

Balázs Hidvéghi, Lívia Járóka

ID

Nicolas Bay, Nicolaus Fest, Jean-Paul Garraud, Marcel De Graaff, Peter Kofod, Annalisa Tardino, Tom Vandendriessche

ECR

Joachim Stanisław Brudziński, Jorge Buxadé Villalba, Patryk Jaki, Nicola Procaccini, Jadwiga Wiśniewska

NI

Milan Uhrík

 

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

- : against

0 : abstention

 

 

[1] OJ C 104 E, 30.4.2004, p. 408.

[4] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0123.

[5] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0344.

[6] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0442.

[7] OJ L 217, 12.8.2016, p. 53.

[8] OJ L 22, 27.1.2017, p. 65.

[9] OJ L 228, 2.9.2017, p. 19.

[10] OJ L 17, 23.1.2018, p. 50.

[11] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0055.

[12] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0058.

[13] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0101.

[14] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0032.

[15] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0204.

[16] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0014.

[17] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0054.

[18] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.

[19] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0111.

[20] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0080.

[21] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0349.

[22] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0407.

[23] Judgment of the Court of Justice of 24 June 2019, Commission v Poland, C-619/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:531; judgment of the Court of Justice of 5 November 2019, Commission v Poland, C-192/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:924.

[25] Ustawa z dnia 22 grudnia 2015 r. o zmianie ustawy o Trybunale Konstytucyjnym (Dz.U. 2015 poz. 2217).

[26] Ustawa z dnia 22 lipca 2016 r. o Trybunale Konstytucyjnym (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 1157).

[27] Judgement of the Constitutional Tribunal of 9 March 2016, K 47/15.

[28] Judgement of the Constitutional Tribunal of 11 August 2016, K 39/16.

[29] Judgement of the Constitutional Tribunal of 7 November 2016, K 44/16.

[30] See Venice Commission Opinion of 14 October 2016 on the Law of 22 July 2016 on the Constitutional Tribunal, Opinion no. 860/2016, para. 127; Commission Reasoned Proposal of 20 December 2017, paras 91 and following.

[31] Ustawa z dnia 30 grudnia 2015 r. o zmianie ustawy o służbie cywilnej oraz niektórych innych ustaw (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 34).

[32] Ustawa z dnia 15 stycznia 2016 r. o zmianie ustawy o Policji oraz niektórych innych ustaw (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 147).

[33] Ustawa z dnia 28 stycznia 2016 r. Prawo o prokuraturze (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 177).

[34] Ustawa z dnia 28 stycznia 2016 r. Przepisy wprowadzające ustawę - Prawo o prokuraturze (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 178).

[35] Ustawa z dnia 18 marca 2016 r. o zmianie ustawy o Rzeczniku Praw Obywatelskich oraz niektórych innych ustaw (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 677).

[36] Ustawa z dnia 22 czerwca 2016 r. o Radzie Mediów Narodowych (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 929).

[37] Ustawa z dnia 10 czerwca 2016 r. o działaniach antyterrorystycznych (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 904).

[38] See Commission Reasoned Proposal of 20 December 2017, paras 112-113.

[39] ENCJ, Warsaw Declaration of 3 June 2016.

[40] OSCE/ODIHR, Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions after its Limited Election Observation Mission, 14 October 2019.

[41] OSCE/ODIHR, Limited Election Observation Mission Final Report on the parliamentary elections of 13 October 2019, Warsaw, 14 February 2020.

[42] Venice Commission, Opinion of 8-9 December 2017, CDL-AD(2017)031, para. 43; Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/1520 of 26 July 2017 regarding the rule of law in Poland complementary to Recommendations (EU) 2016/1374 and (EU) 2017/146 (OJ L 228, 2.9.2017, p. 19), para. 135.

[43] Venice Commission, CDL-AD (2002) 23, Opinion no. 190/2002, Code of good practice in electoral matters. Guidelines and explanatory report, 30 October 2002; See, as well, Venice Commission, CDL-PI(2020)005rev-e, Report on Respect for Democracy Human Rights and Rule of Law during States of Emergency - Reflections, p. 23.

[44] See, as well, OSCE/ODIHR, Opinion on the draft act on special rules for conducting the general election of the President of the Republic of Poland ordered in 2020 (Senate Paper No. 99), 27 April 2020.

[45] Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation) (OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1).

[46] Ustawa z dnia 30 listopada 2016 r. o organizacji i trybie postępowania przed Trybunałem Konstytucyjnym (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 2072); ustawa z dnia 30 listopada 2016 r. o statusie sędziów Trybunału Konstytucyjnego (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 2073); Ustawa z dnia 13 grudnia 2016 r. - Przepisy wprowadzające ustawę o organizacji i trybie postępowania przed Trybunałem Konstytucyjnym oraz ustawę o statusie sędziów Trybunału Konstytucyjnego (Dz.U. 2016 poz. 2074).

[47] Venice Commission Opinion of 14-15 October 2016, para. 128; UN, Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Poland, 31 October 2016, paras 7-8; Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/1520.

[48] Judgment of the Court of Justice 19 November 2019, A.K. and Others v Sąd Najwyższy, C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:982.

[49] Ustawa z dnia 20 grudnia 2019 r. o zmianie ustawy - Prawo o ustroju sądów powszechnych, ustawy o Sądzie Najwyższym oraz niektórych innych ustaw (Dz.U. 2020 poz. 190).

[50] Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, CDL-PI(2020)002, paras 51-55.

[51] See Commission Reasoned Proposal of 20 December 2017, COM(2017) 835, para. 133. See also OSCE-ODIHR, Opinion on Certain Provisions of the Draft Act on the Supreme Court of Poland (as of 26 September 2017), 13 November 2017, p. 33.

[52] Judgment of the Court of Justice of 24 June 2019, Commission v Poland, C-619/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:531.

[53] Order of the Court of Justice of 17 December 2018, Commission v Poland, C-619/18 R, ECLI:EU:C:2018:1021.

[54] Ustawa z dnia 21 listopada 2018 r. o zmianie ustawy o Sądzie Najwyższym (Dz.U. 2018 poz. 2507).

[55] OSCE-ODIHR, Opinion of 13 November 2017, p. 7-20; Venice Commission, Opinion of 8-9 December 2017, para. 43; Commission Recommendation (EU) 2018/103 of 20 December 2017 regarding the rule of law in Poland complementary to Commission Recommendations (EU) 2016/1374, (EU) 2017/146 and (EU) 2017/1520 (OJ L 17, 23.1.2018, p. 50), para. 25; GRECO, Addendum to the Fourth Round Evaluation Report on Poland (Rule 34) of 18-22 June 2018, para. 31; Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, para. 8.

[56] Judgment of the Court of Justice 19 November 2019, A.K. and Others v Sąd Najwyższy, C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:982.

[57] Judgment of the Supreme Court of 5 December 2019, III PO 7/19.

[58] Resolution of of the Joint Civil, Criminal and Labour Chambers of the Supreme Court of 23 January 2020, BSA I-4110-1/2020.

[59] Judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of 20 April 2020, U 2/20.

[60] Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, para. 38.

[61] Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, para. 38.

[62] Order of the Court of Justice of 8 April 2020, Commission v Poland, C-791/19 R, ECLI:EU:C:2020:277.

[63] Ustawa z dnia 8 grudnia 2017 r. o zmianie ustawy o Krajowej Radzie Sądownictwa oraz niektórych innych ustaw (Dz.U. 2018 poz. 3).

[64] Consultative Council of European Judges, Opinions of the Bureau of 7 April 2017 and 12 October 2017; OSCE/ODIHR, Final Opinion on Draft Amendments to the Act of the National Council of the Judiciary, 5 May 2017; Venice Commission, Opinion of 8-9 December 2017, p. 5-7; GRECO, Ad hoc Report on Poland (Rule 34) of 19-23 March 2018 and Addendum of 18-22 June 2018; Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, paras 42 and 61.

[65] Decision of the Supreme Court of 15 January 2020, III PO 8/18. Decision of the Supreme Court of 15 January 2020, III PO 9/18.

[66] On this subject, see, as well, the following cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights: Reczkowicz and two Others v. Poland (application nos. 43447/19, 49868/19 and 57511/19), Grzęda v. Poland (no. 43572/18), Xero Flor w Polsce sp. z o.o. v. Poland (no.4907/18), Broda v. Poland and Bojara v. Poland (nos. 26691/18 and 27367/18), Żurek v. Poland (no. 39650/18) and Sobczyńska and Others v. Poland (nos. 62765/14, 62769/14, 62772/14 and 11708/18).

[67] ENCJ, Letter of 21 February 2020 by the ENCJ Executive Board. See as well the letter of 4 May 2020 by the European Association of Judges in support of the ENCJ.

[68] Ustawa z dnia 12 maja 2011 r. o Krajowej Radzie Sądownictwa (Dz.U. 2011 nr 126 poz. 714).

[69] Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, para. 45.

[70] See also Council of Europe, Bureau of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE-BU), CCJE-BU(2018)6REV, 18 June 2018.

[71] Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, paras 46 to 50.

[72] Judgment of the Court of Justice of 5 November 2019, Commission v Poland, C-192/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:924.

[73] Ustawa z dnia 12 lipca 2017 r. o zmianie ustawy - Prawo o ustroju sądów powszechnych oraz niektórych innych ustaw (Dz.U. 2017 poz. 1452).

[74] OSCE/ODIHR, Urgent Interim Opinion on the Bill Amending the Act on the Organization of Common Courts, the Act on the Supreme Court and Certain Other Acts of Poland (as of 20 December 2019), 14 January 2020, p. 23-26; Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, paras 44-45.

[75] OSCE/ODIHR, Urgent Interim Opinion, 14 January 2020, p. 18-21; Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, paras 24-30;

[76] OSCE/ODIHR, Urgent Interim Opinion, 14 January 2020, p. 13-17; Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, paras 31-43.

[77] Ustawa z dnia 27 lipca 2001 r. Prawo o ustroju sądów powszechnych (Dz.U. 2001 nr 98 poz. 1070).

[78] Venice Commission Opinion of 8-9 December 2017 on the Act on the Public Prosecutor's office, as amended, CDL-AD(2017)028, para. 115.

[79] Commission Recommendation (EU) 2018/103; United Nations, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Statement of 25 June 2018; European Commission, 2019 European semester: Country report Poland, 27 February 2019, SWD(2019) 1020 final, p. 42; the Presidents of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, the Network of Presidents of the Supreme Courts of the EU and the European Judges Association, letter of 20 September 2019; GRECO, Follow-up to the Addendum to the Fourth Round Evaluation Report (rule 34) – Poland, 6 December 2019, para. 65; PACE, Resolution 2316 (2020) of 28 January 2020 on the functioning of democratic institutions in Poland, para. 4.

[80] See, as well, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Poland, 19 January 2018; Joint Statement in Support of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, signed by ENNHRI, Equinet, GANHRI, IOI, OHCHR Europe, June 2019. 

[81] UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Poland, 23 November 2016, para. 33.

[82] Venice Commission and DGI of the Council of Europe, Urgent Joint Opinion of 16 January 2020, para 59.

[83] Judgment of the Court of Justice of 26 March 2020, Simpson v Council and HG v Commission, Joined Cases C-542/18 RX-II and C-543/18 RX-II, ECLI:EU:C:2020:232, para 57.

[84] See, as well, the World Press Freedom Index, according to which Poland has fallen from 18th to 62nd place in the ranking since 2015.

[85] Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, 2020 Annual Report, March 2020, p. 42.

[86] Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 of 13 April 2016 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors.

[87] International Press Institute (IPI) Tracker on Press Freedom Violations Linked to COVID-19 Coverage, https://ipi.media/covid19-media-freedom-monitoring/.

[88] Council of Europe, the Organisation of American States et al., Declaration of the Global Forum on Academic Freedom, Institutional Autonomy, and the Future of Democracy, 21 June 2019.

[89] Ustawa z dnia 18 grudnia 1998 r. o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej - Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu (Dz.U. 1998 nr 155 poz. 1016).

[90] See as well the Statement of 28 June 2018 by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

[91] Ustawa z dnia 24 lipca 2015 r. - Prawo o zgromadzeniach (Dz.U. 2015 poz. 1485).

[92] Ustawa z dnia 13 grudnia 2016 r. o zmianie ustawy - Prawo o zgromadzeniach (Dz.U. 2017 poz. 579).

[93] See as well the Communication of 23 April 2018 by UN Experts to urge Poland to ensure free and full participation at climate talks.

[94] Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, letter to the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, 6 May 2020.

[95] Ustawa z dnia 15 września 2017 r. o Narodowym Instytucie Wolności - Centrum Rozwoju Społeczeństwa Obywatelskiego (Dz.U. 2017 poz. 1909).

[96] OSCE/ODIHR, Opinion on the Draft Act of Poland on the National Freedom Institute - Centre for the Development of Civil Society, Warsaw, 22 August 2017.

[97] EESC, Report on Fundamental rights and the rule of law: national developments from a civil society perspective 2018-2019, June 2020, p. 41-42.

[98] EESC, Press Statement “Alarming pressure on civil society: Polish EESC member becomes a target of government retaliation and NGOs no longer able to choose their own candidates”, 23 June 2020.

[99] Ustawa z dnia 6 kwietnia 1990 r. o Policji (Dz.U. 1990 nr 30 poz. 179).

[100] UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Poland, 23 November 2016, paras 39-40. See as well Communication by UN Experts to urge Poland to ensure free and full participation at climate talks, 23 April 2018.

[101] EDPB, letter on Polish presidential elections data disclosure, 5 May 2020.

[102] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Statement of 14 April 2020.

[103] In 2017, abortion due to fetal defects accounted for 97.9 percent all treatments: Center for Health Information Systems, reports of the Statistical Research Program of Public Statistics MZ-29, as published on the website of the Polish Sejm. Sprawozdanie Rady Ministrów z wykonywania oraz o skutkach stosowania w 2016 r. ustawy z dnia 7 stycznia 1993 r. o planowaniu rodziny, ochronie płodu ludzkiego i warunkach dopuszczalności przerywania ciąży (Dz. U. poz. 78, z późnn. zm.).

[104] See as well the issue paper of the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights of December 2017 entitled ‘Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe’; Statement of 22 March 2018 by UN Experts advising the UN Working Group on discrimination against women, and Statement of 14 April 2020 by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights.

[105] Ustawa z dnia 16 lipca 2020 r. o zmianie ustawy o zawodach lekarza i lekarza dentysty
oraz niektórych innych ustaw (not yet published in the Official Journal).

[106]Ustawa z dnia 5 grudnia 1996 r. o zawodach lekarza i lekarza dentysty (Dz.U. 1997 nr 28 poz. 152).

[107] Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 20 March 2007, Tysiąc v. Poland (application no. 5410/03); Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 20 March 2007, R. R. v. Poland (application no. 27617/04); Judgment of the European Court of  Human Rights of 30 October 2012, P. and S. v. Poland (application no. 57375/08).

[108] EP Resolution of 15 November 2017, para. 18; PACE, Resolution 2316 (2020) of 28 January 2020 on the functioning of democratic institutions in Poland, para. 14; UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Poland, 23 November 2016, CCPR/C/POL/CO/7, paras 15-18.

[109] United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Concluding observations on the combined twenty-second to twenty-fourth periodic reports of Poland, August 2019.

[110] Ibid.

[111] Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16).

[112] European Commission, DG REGIO, letter to the authorities of the Polish regions of Lublin, Łódź, Lesser Poland, Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie, 27 May 2020. See, as well, Judgment of the Court of Justice of 23 April 2020, Associazione Avvocatura per i diritti LGBTI, C-507/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:289.

[113] Judgment of the Court of Justice of 5 June 2018, Coman, C‑673/16, ECLI:EU:C:2018:385; Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 2 March 2010, Kozak v. Poland (application no. 13102/02); Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 22 January 2008, E.B. v. France (application no. 43546/02); Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 19 February 2013, X and Others v. Austria (application no. 19010/07); Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 30 June 2016, Taddeucci and McCall v. Italy (application no. 51362/09); Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 21 July 2015, Oliari and Others v. Italy (applications nos. 18766/11 and 36030/11); Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 14 December 2017, Orlandi and Others v. Italy (applications nos. 26431/12, 26742/12, 44057/12 and 60088/12); Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 14 January 2020, Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania (application no. 41288/15).

[114] LIBE Committee, Mission Report of 3 December 2018 following the ad hoc delegation to Poland on the situation of the Rule of Law, 19 - 21 September 2018.

[115] ECtHR Case Sõro v. Estonia, 3 September 2015, para 60-62; Fourth Commission Recommendation (EU) 2018/103 of 20 December 2017, para. 9; Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Resolution 2316 (2020) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Poland, adopted on 28 January 2020, para. 13.

[116] OSCE, press release, 13 July 2020: https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/457204.

[117] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0058.

[118] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0111.

[119] R.R., TYSIAC and P. and S. v. Poland (Application Nos 27617/04, 5410/03, 57375/08)

[120] OJ C 204, 13.6.2018, p. 95.

[121] OJ C 356, 4.10.2018, p. 44.

[122] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0101.

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