European Commission acts to defend judicial independence in Poland
Rule of Law in Poland
Despite repeated efforts, for almost two years, to engage the Polish authorities in a constructive dialogue in the context of the Rule of Law Framework, the Commission has today concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland.
Judicial reforms in Poland mean that the country's judiciary is now under the political control of the ruling majority. In the absence of judicial independence, serious questions are raised about the effective application of EU law, from the protection of investments to the mutual recognition of decisions in areas as diverse as child custody disputes or the execution of European Arrest Warrants.
The Commission has therefore proposed to the Council to adopt a decision under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union. Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union provides for the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, to determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the common values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty on the need to respect human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
The Commission has also today issued a complementary (4th) Rule of Law Recommendation, setting out clearly the steps that the Polish authorities can take to remedy the current situation.
Should the Polish authorities implement the recommended actions, the Commission is ready, in close consultation with the European Parliament and the Council, to reconsider its Reasoned Proposal. Furthermore, the Commission has decided to take the next step in its infringement procedure against Poland for breaches of EU law by the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation, referring Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Whilst taking these unprecedented measures, the Commission maintains its offer for a constructive dialogue to remedy the current situation.
Capital Markets Union
Investment firms play an important role in facilitating savings and investment flows across the EU. Investment firms and the services they provide are vital to a well-functioning Capital Markets Union and give investors access to securities and derivatives markets. These services include investment advice, portfolio management, executing orders for clients, trading in financial instruments and helping companies raise funds on capital markets.
Up to now all investment firms have been subject to the same EU prudential rules as banks. Over time, the rules have become more complex, and do not fully take into account the different business profiles and risks of investment firms. Moreover, Investment firms are subject to a number of specific exemptions from these rules which Member States do not always apply consistently. It has therefore become more costly for investment firms to comply with these rules.
For all these reasons, the Commission has presented today a proposal today which aims to ensure that investment firms are subject to key prudential requirements and corresponding supervisory arrangements that are adapted to their risk profile and business model, without compromising financial stability.
Thanks to this proposal Europe's capital markets will be more efficient and better supervised.
Concretely, the proposal includes new and simpler prudential rules for the large majority of investment firms which are not systemic, without compromising financial stability. The proposal also includes amended rules to ensure that large, systemic investment firms which carry out bank-like activities and pose similar risks as banks are regulated and supervised like banks. As a consequence, the European Central Bank, in its supervisory capacity, (the Single Supervisory Mechanism) would supervise such systemic investment firms in the Banking Union. This will ensure level playing field between the large and systemic financial institutions.
Article 50 negotiations with the United kingdom
Following the guidelines adopted by the European Council (Art 50) on 15 December, the European Commission has today sent a Recommendation to the Council (Art 50) to begin discussions on the next phase of the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The draft negotiating directives, which supplement the negotiating directives from May 2017, set out additional details on possible transitional arrangements. In line with the European Council's guidelines of 15 December, the General Affairs Council (Art 50) will adopt these additional negotiating directives on transitional arrangements in January 2018.
The Commission reported on the continuous fulfilment of the visa liberalisation benchmarks by the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) as well as the Eastern Partnership countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). The report shows that, whilst the visa liberalisation requirements for the countries concerned continue to be fulfilled, action is required in a number of specific areas to preserve their sustainable implementation.
The Commission reported today on progress made towards achieving full visa reciprocity with Canada and the United States, evaluating the developments over the past seven months, and also providing the Commission's assessment on the effectiveness of the reciprocity mechanism.
The number of non-reciprocity cases has been vastly reduced in the last two-and-a-half years. Most recently, full visa reciprocity was achieved with Canada after it lifted visa requirements for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens as of 1 December 2017. With similar results already achieved with Australia, Brunei and Japan, this leaves the United States as the only non-EU country in the EU's visa-free list which does not grant visa-free access to citizens of all EU Member States.
Frequently asked questions: EU visa reciprocity mechanism
Communication adopted on 20 December 2017
Communication adopted on 2 May 2017
Communication adopted on 21 December 2016
Communication adopted on 13 July 2016
Communication adopted on 12 April 2016
5 November 2015 – Report from the Commission assessing the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy
22 April 2015 - Report from the Commission assessing the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy
10 October 2014 - Report from the Commission assessing the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy
Council Regulation listing those countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001)
Regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Regulation (EU) 1289/2013)
20 grudzień 2017