Published: January 14, 2016
Alexander Stępkowski, Undersecretary of State in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that a decision of the European Commission to impose on Poland procedures for the protection of the rule of law was illegal since "there is no basis in EU law” for such a decision.
The Undersecretary of State for Legal and Treaty Affairs and Human Rights Stępkowski pointed out that, in accordance with the EU Treaties, the European Commission can monitor adherence to the rule of law only with respect to EU institutions but not with respect to EU Member States. The adherence to the rule of law by the Member States is the exclusive prerogative of the European Council. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is waiting for written communication with respect to the European Commission’s January 13, 2015 decision on the implementation of the first stage of EU procedures to monitor the rule of law in Poland.
Undersecretary Stępkowski estimated that if the European Commission and its VP Timmermans have the authority "to oversee compliance with the rule of law in relation to the EU institutions," they have no such authority when it comes to relations with the EU Member States because “such competences lie exclusively with the European Council." Undersecretary Stepkowski referred to an opinion of the legal services of the European Council, which states that ''the legal framework proposed by the Commission has no basis in the Treaties." “Based on my personal consultations with officials in the European Council, it is clear that they support this position,” he stressed.
He also added: "It would be unfortunate if the Commission would like to use all the fuss in the media in order to grant itself additional powers which are not conferred on the Commission by the EU Treaty. We hope that the position of the European Council will not be in any way undermined by this action of the European Commission. That is why we are pleased with the latest assurance the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker that the Commission intends to act fully within the boundary of the EU Treaties."
Undersecretary Stępkowski also noted that "the Polish Republic expects that the European Union Treaty will be observed by the European Commission."
Some commentators in Poland pointed out that European institutions begin to use the law of lawlessness, in other words, the law of the stronger known as the law of the jungle or fist. This is a similar trend as can be observed with respect to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, which granted itself the powers to decide in matters over which it had no jurisdiction.