On 7 December 2020, Polish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Kosma Złotowski of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In its answer to Question No P-005616/20, the Commission stated that the first annual Rule of Law Report referred to a planned reform of the justice system in France but did not explain why the report fails to address the concerns which it raises with French judges. If we compare the chapters on reforms of the justice systems in France and Poland, it is difficult not to notice the lack of objectivity. In the case of Poland, the report talks mainly about reservations, which are not mentioned at all in the chapter on France.
In this context I would like to ask the following:
1. Why did the Commission not make a clear, critical assessment of the planned reform of the French judiciary in the above-mentioned report, applying the same criteria it uses for changes to the judiciary in Poland?
2. Why were the provisions on disciplinary procedures against judges adopted in Poland criticised in the report, whilst the analogous provisions of French law contained in Article 10 of Legislative Decree 58-1270 of 22 December 1958, which constitutes the organic law on the status of judges and prosecutors, were not assessed according to the same criteria?
3. In the case of the above-mentioned reform of the justice system in France, does the Commission think that the obligations arising from EU law have been complied with? Did the Commission, in its reaction to the list of the associations of French judges, share the concerns of its authors?”
On 22 January 2021, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The 2020 Rule of Law Report examines all Member States equally, and provides the Commission’s assessment in line with the scope and methodology discussed with the Member States. The Country Chapter on the rule of law situation in France makes reference to several envisaged reform elements, which aim to further strengthen judicial independence.
As regards the legal provision to which the Honourable Member refers, it should be noted that each justice system is different and must always be looked at in a comprehensive manner. A specific provision from one Member State’s legal system cannot be singled out and compared with a provision of another Member State’s legal system, without looking at the context of the legal system and the whole system of checks and balances in that Member State.
More generally, the Commission recalls that, although the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within their competence, when exercising that competence, the Member States are required to comply with their obligations deriving from EC law, including judicial independence. The Rule of Law Report aims at encouraging all Member States to learn from each other’s experiences and at showing how the rule of law can be further strengthened in full respect of EC law and European standards.
As regards the letter of two French judiciary associations to which the Honourable Member refers, the Commission has received this letter and replied to it. The Commission is following closely the related ongoing developments.”
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