How Poland Could Return to the EU Fold
After three years of watching the ruling Law and Justice party undermine the judiciary and attack EU institutions, Polish voters seem to have had enough of populist rule. With next year's European Parliament election fast approaching, the European center right should renounce the populists in its ranks once and for all.
WARSAW – Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has finally taken steps to comply with a European Court of Justice (ECJ) decree ordering it to reverse some of the judicial “reforms” that took effect in July. Under the offending legislation, the PiS had tried to force out disfavored Supreme Court justices by arbitrarily lowering the retirement age. It also created two new judicial chambers: one to discipline judges who step out of line, the other to review rulings handed down over the last 20 years and to decide on the validity of the elections.
By offering to reverse the retirement-age provision, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is betting that he can reinstate the ousted judges – most of whom had refused to leave anyway – while maintaining the rest of the “reform” package. So far, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans has opposed this halfway solution, whereas President Jean-Claude Juncker is reportedly willing to entertain it.
But while appeasing the PiS has certainly been the favored approach of Manfred Weber, the European People’s Party (EPP) Spitzenkandidat who hopes to succeed Juncker, it is becoming increasingly hard to justify. After all, there is good reason to think that populists will suffer an overwhelming defeat in the European Parliament election in May 2019.