Poland's justice minister: it's not about judiciary anymore; Poland's being played politically
"It’s not about dispute over judiciary anymore, but about drawing out the decision until the European elections, in order to play Poland politically," said Poland’s Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro regarding Tuesday’s proceedings in the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ). The Advocate General of the ECJ is expected to issue an opinion regarding the case on the 11th of April.
During Tuesday's session in the ECJ in Luxembourg, Poland and the EU Commission maintained their standpoints regarding the complaint over Poland's Supreme Court law. Poland claims the complaint is baseless as the law was amended, whereas the Commission insists that a ruling by the ECJ is necessary.
On Tuesday in the ECJ, proceedings were held regarding the complaint against Poland submitted by the European Commission. The complaint pertains to the provisions of Poland's law on the Supreme Court, lowering retirement age of the top court's judges to 65. Poland already changed those provisions but the Commission did not withdraw its complaint. The Advocate General of the ECJ is expected to issue an opinion regarding the case on the 11th of April. The opinion is not a ruling in itself but its the last step before the verdict. The ruling, in turn, should be handed down a few weeks after the said opinion by the Advocate General, most likely in May.
Ziobro was asked on Tuesday at a press conference whether he was afraid of the said opinion and he replied that the Polish authorities met the EU Commission's expectations regarding changing of provisions on the retirement age of judges. According to the minister it's no longer a dispute over judiciary, but on politics and enforcing Polish opposition ahead of the elections to the European Parliament.
"The essence of the European Commission is to seek compromise and when I spoke to Frans Timmermans, he declared willingness to end the dispute, once an agreement have been reached and the Commission's demands met," added the justice minister.
"We were never in agreement over the Commission's demands, however, in the name of higher good, we made a political decision to comply with them. Despite that, in contrast to prior declarations, Mr Timmermans wants to continue the dispute. Apparently, he is showing his true intentions," said Ziobro.
According to him "it’s not about dispute over judiciary anymore, but about drawing out the decision until the European elections, in order to play Poland politically and to give the opposition a chance to exploit this case against Poland's good image," said the minister.
He pointed out that it all takes place "in a situation when the case is solved and closed, thanks to a very far-reaching gesture on Poland's part, especially that we had serious reservations to not doing so".
"We treated Mr Timmermans' declaration very seriously, we thought it was really about agreement and compromise. Mr Timmermans' behaviour shows what sort of agreement and compromise it is. It's about political fight against Polish government, as well as political fight against Poland," said the minister.
According to him "it's harmful to Poland" and "pettifogging approach of the EC, based on seeking quarrels come what may, will not reflect positively on the opposition, on which Mr Timmermans is counting so much and which he wants to enforce".