Row with the EU: is Warsaw backing down?
In its dispute with the EU, the Polish government has announced plans to reform the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. According to PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński, initial proposals for changes to the country's controversial judicial reform are to be presented in September. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in July that Poland is violating European law with its system for disciplining judges.
Brussels has the tools to impose its will
Poland's concessions should encourage the EU to take a firm stance with Hungary as well, El País argues:
“Kaczyński's backdown is proof that Brussels has mechanisms to enforce the rule of law. And that political and legal pressure can bring governments with authoritarian tendencies to heel, especially when accompanied by threats of financial sanctions or the blocking of European funds. ... Polls show that public opinion in both countries is overwhelmingly in favour of EU membership, and neither Kaczyński nor Orbán can afford a clash with Brussels that would put their political and financial survival at risk.”
A coup for the PiS
Kaczyński's concessions were a good move for his party, The Spectator concludes:
“By resolving the conflict with Brussels, PiS comes across as the grown-up member of the coalition and hopes to be seen as the party fighting for Poland's rights within the EU while stopping short of provoking 'Polexit'. ... They are ready to fight with the bloc over matters of sovereignty - but prepared to compromise in order to preserve their EU membership. PiS may appear humiliated by the rule-of-law climbdown; but in the rapidly evolving Polish political landscape, they may also have stumbled on an electoral masterstroke.”
A fine line
For Gazeta Wyborcza, Warsaw's backing down comes as no surprise:
“The answer to the question of why the omnipotent Kaczyński sometimes exercises restraint in spite of everything is simple: he doesn't want to cross the fine line between a dysfunctional democracy and an open dictatorship. ... Because he knows that this would result in Poland's immediate exclusion from the circle of civilised countries, including the European Union and Nato. Another consequence would be a profound economic crisis, a decline in popular support for the government and a strengthening of the opposition - even if at that stage we would be talking about an extra-parliamentary opposition.”
Conflict still a long way from being defused
Rzeczpospolita is sceptical about the Polish government's concessions:
“Even if the new regulations still violate EU law, the case before the ECJ would have to start from scratch. That would take up to two years. The question is whether the PiS wants to escalate the conflict with Brussels or whether it prefers to look for solutions that would put a quick end to the dispute. If it opts for solutions that comply with the Court's guidelines, the conflict can be frozen for a while. But if it ignores the ECJ's recommendations, the dispute will continue at an intense level for some time to come.”