The College discussed the preparation of President Juncker's yearly address on the State of the European Union and took decision on Poland
President Juncker's yearly address on the State of the European Union
President Juncker met with the College of Commissioners ahead of his speech on the State of the European Union on 13 September in Strasbourg. The State of Union address is the moment when the President reflects on progress made over the last year in delivering on the Commission's political priorities, and outlines his vision for the future, both in the medium term for the year ahead and with a longer perspective. Today's College meeting was an opportunity for Commissioners to conclude their collective reflection on the initiatives that the President will present in his speech.
Independence of the judiciary in Poland
The Commission took a further step in the infringement procedure against Poland over measures affecting the judiciary by sending a Reasoned Opinion. Following a thorough analysis of the response of the Polish authorities to the Letter of Formal Notice sent in July 2017 concerning the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation, the Commission finds that its concerns have not been adequately addressed and therefore has moved to the next stage of the infringement procedure.
According to the Commission's analysis, by introducing a different retirement age for female judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years) the Polish Law discriminates against individuals on the basis of gender. This is contrary to Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Directive 2006/54 on gender equality in employment.
The Commission also raises legal concerns that by giving the Minister of Justice the discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges who have reached retirement age, as well as to dismiss and appoint Court Presidents, the independence of Polish courts will be undermined, contrary to Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) read in connection with Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Polish authorities now have one month to take the necessary measures to comply with this Reasoned Opinion. If the Polish authorities do not take appropriate measures, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
12 September 2017