On 15 October 2020, Polish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Beata Mazurek of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“We are receiving worrying information from Spain, where the government, as it is entitled to do, is changing the rules governing the election of the General Council of the Judiciary, which will continue to be elected by the parliament, although not, as has been the case thus far, by a 3/5 majority but by a majority of 50% +1. And there are worrying reports from France, where French judges, in a letter to the Commission, point to an alleged ‘violation of the rule of law’ and the ‘independence of French courts’ by the authorities and the reforms they are carrying out.
With reference to recent events in which Poland was unjustifiably attacked for violating the principles of the so-called ‘rule of law’, and bearing in mind the equal treatment of EU countries and the good of all citizens, I would like to ask the Commission to answer the following questions:
1. Given the undue attacks against Poland, does the Commission intend to take similar measures against France and Spain?
2. Does the Commission intend to initiate Article 7 proceedings against these countries?
3. In connection with these events in Spain and France, which allegedly undermine fundamental European values, does the Commission plan to make the disbursement of funds conditional on respect for the rule of law in those countries?”
On 3 February 2021, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission has published on 30 September 2020 the first annual Rule of Law Report, which is at the centre of the new European Rule of Law Mechanism.
The report provides an overview of the significant rule of law developments in all Member States, including those relating to their justice systems. In this context, the Commission is following closely the developments in Spain and in France, including the developments raised in the letter to which the Honourable Member refers.
The Commission recalls that each justice system is different and must always be looked at in a comprehensive manner taking into account the legal context as well as the whole system of checks and balances in the Member State concerned.
The Commission does not consider that there are grounds for initiating a procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) as regards Spain or France.
The agreed Regulation on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of Union budget provides for objective criteria and clear provisions on what constitutes a breach of the principles of the rule of law in view of the financial interests of the EU. The Commission will monitor the situation in all the Member States in light of this regulation.”
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