This week there will be quite important action – this is how Justice Minister Adam Bodnar answers the question when he will present the draft amendments to the constitution. The changes are intended to restore full rule of law in Poland. They will most likely also concern the Constitutional Tribunal of Julia Przyłębska.
The nearest official plans of the Ministry of Justice are as follows: first, the government is to deal with the draft law on depoliticization of the National Council of the Judiciary, prepared in this ministry, and then the details of the law on separating the position of the Minister of Justice from the position of the Prosecutor General are to be worked out. And what next? – Minister Bodnar has already partially presented and will also present in the coming hours these proposals for changes, including changes to the constitution – said Donald Tusk on Wednesday. For now, however, not much more is known and the ministry tells us to wait.
The Minister of Justice announces that the proposals will be announced soon, and the deputy minister reveals that it will concern the situation in the Constitutional Tribunal. – Within a few days, we will show the comprehensive plan regarding the Constitutional Tribunal, because the Constitutional Tribunal is one of the elements that blocks the normal functioning of the state in Poland – explains Krzysztof Śmiszek, deputy minister of justice from the New Left.
It was from the Constitutional Tribunal that PiS began changes in the judiciary immediately after taking power in 2015. There are judges elected to occupied seats and a president appointed in an improper procedure. There was also tampering with adjudicating panels, and finally – virtual judicial paralysis when some judges did not want to adjudicate with others.
This is why the Constitutional Tribunal delayed for months examining the law that was supposed to unblock the KPO, and the president then said “let the Tribunal dispute the matter.” – There were requests, for example from the president, for the efficient operation of the Tribunal in certain issues due to the interest of the state, but today the Tribunal is operating and there does not seem to be any need for action here – says Małgorzata Paprocka from the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland.
Need for change
After the change of power, the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland no longer sees a problem with the Tribunal, but everyone else – including the government and the European Commission – still sees this problem clearly. – Subsequent judgments are sometimes accepted with a shrug of the shoulders, but they cause a number of various complications in the functioning of the state and we simply need to respond to this problem in a comprehensive way – emphasizes Adam Bodnar. Judgments delivered by judges elected to fill their seats may be challenged. Poland is paying and will continue to pay compensation for this if nothing changes. – There is a need for both soft solutions and statutory solutions – says Krzysztof Śmiszek. – We should prepare laws and I am waiting for such laws prepared by Minister Bodnar – adds Urszula Pasławska from PSL.
Immediately after the formation of Tusk’s government, there was talk of parliamentary resolutions regarding improperly selected judges of the Constitutional Tribunal. A more certain and more difficult to challenge solution would be a statute, but then – as in the case of the National Council of the Judiciary and the Prosecutor General – a problem will arise at the stage of the presidential signature. – The president’s hand, extended by the president during his swearing-in, remains extended towards the government majority – emphasizes Błażej Poboży, the president’s adviser.
The outstretched hand remains, but the same president previously took oaths from incorrectly selected judges of the Constitutional Tribunal and accepted most of PiS’s ideas. It is therefore difficult to expect that he would just accept undoing these decisions. But it will be even more difficult for those in power if they actually try to change the constitution in this respect. – A system restart is needed, but it must be a decision of the entire class. We will see if it is possible, says Mirosław Suchoń from Poland 2050-Third Way.
The Confederation had already talked about a constitutional restart, which wanted to reset the composition of sensitive institutions to zero. The People’s Party also proposes changing the constitution. The Prime Minister wants a serious discussion on this issue. – We need to talk seriously about constitutional changes. Also so that you can never do again what President Duda did in 2015, 2016. The state must be secured, the constitution must be secured, the legal system must be secured against the arbitrariness of politicians. Even at the highest level – emphasizes Donald Tusk. – I don’t know if there is a constitutional moment, I have very serious doubts about it, but let’s talk. Any idea that will take us out of the clinch, that will actually take us out of the clinch, is good – emphasizes Szymon Hołownia, Speaker of the Sejm from Poland 2050-Third Way.
The problem is that even those in power with the Confederation do not have a sufficient majority in the Sejm for this. Apart from convincing the president to sign it, they would also have to reach an agreement with at least some PiS MPs to pass it at all. And such a parliamentary alliance has little chance.
For now, PiS is submitting a motion of no confidence in Adam Bodnar to the Sejm. – From the Ombudsman, he transformed into the executor of Donald Tusk’s political will. It is often based on breaking the law – emphasizes Marcin Przydacz from PiS.
Minister Bodnar and Deputy Minister Śmiszek were in Brussels on Friday. They want the changes introduced to, first of all, unlock EU funds for KPO. And secondly, for the EU to close the procedure against Poland for violating the rule of law, this famous procedure from Article 7 of the EU treaty. – Maybe when we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poland’s accession to the European Union on May 1, 2024, Article Seven will not burden us, Bodnar speculates.
First, however, new regulations are needed – signed by the president.
Main photo source: Fakty po Południu TVN24