EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis
Photo: JONAS EKSTROMER / AFP
Poland's long-standing judicial dispute with the EU is continuing: As EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis announced, his agency has once again initiated infringement proceedings against Warsaw. The background to this is the establishment of a commission of inquiry into "Russian influence" in Poland, which was recently made possible by law.
Critics see this as an attempt by the ruling PiS party to politically eliminate opposition leader Donald Tusk before the parliamentary elections in autumn. The law therefore also made international headlines as "Lex Tusk". On June 4, more than a hundred thousand people demonstrated in Warsaw against the government's plan. Tusk himself and other opposition parties had called for this.
The PiS had approved the legal basis for the commission of inquiry at the end of May. The nine-member panel is to judge without a judicial basis whether people in Poland succumbed to "Russian influence" between 2007 and 2022. If convicted, those affected face a ten-year ban from public office. Under Tusk, Poland had once concluded gas and oil deals with Moscow, and the future EU Council President was Poland's head of government from 2007 to 2014.
At the end of a so-called infringement procedure, there may be a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice and a fine. On Thursday, the EU Commission wants to send a letter with the allegations to Poland. Warsaw will then have two months to respond.
In addition to the EU Commission, the German government and the USA had recently expressed concern about the project. Poland's President Andrzej Duda had already announced that he would instruct Poland's Constitutional Tribunal to review the law and proposed amendments. In the new version, the panel is now only supposed to determine "that a person who has acted under Russian influence cannot ensure proper fulfillment of the public interest."
The "Lex Tusk" has once again brought Poland into conflict with the EU. On Monday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that a judicial reform implemented by Warsaw in 2019 was not compatible with EU directives.