Paolo Soro

Focus on rule of law in Poland and fiscal situation of Spain and Portugal

The Commission adopts a recommendation on the rule of law in Poland, proposes new fiscal adjustment paths for Spain and Portugal and recommends cancelling the fine of 0.2% of GDP for failure to correct their excessive deficit.

Following an intensive dialogue with the Polish authorities, the Commission has adopted today a 'Rule of Law Recommendation' on the current situation in Poland, setting out the Commission's concerns around the functioning of the Constitutional Tribunal, and recommending concretely how these concerns can be addressed. The Commission believes that there is a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland. The fact that the Constitutional Tribunal is prevented from fully ensuring an effective constitutional review adversely affects its integrity, stability and proper functioning, which is one of the essential safeguards of the rule of law in Poland. Where a constitutional justice system has been established, its effectiveness is a key component of the rule of law.

This next step under the Rule of Law Mechanism follows the Commission's adoption of an Opinion on the situation in Poland on 1 June, and the adoption by the Polish Parliament of a new Law on the Constitutional Tribunal on 22 July. The Commission has assessed the overall situation, including in the light of the new law, and reaches the conclusion that even if certain of its concerns have been addressed by that law, important issues of concern regarding the rule of law in Poland remain.

Following the Council's decision of 12 July 2016 that neither Spain nor Portugal had taken effective action to correct their excessive deficits, the Commission was legally obliged to present the Council within 20 days a proposal for a fine. The default amount established by the legislation is 0.2% of GDP, but this can be reduced on the grounds of exceptional economic circumstances or following a reasoned request by the Member State concerned within 10 days. Spain and Portugal submitted such reasoned requests.

Today the Commission - acknowledging the reasoned requests, both countries' reform efforts and their commitments to comply with the Rules of the Stability and Growth Pact - recommends to the Council to cancel the fine and to set new fiscal paths for both countries.

Spain shall put an end to the present excessive deficit by 2018, while Portugal shall do so by 2016. For both countries, effective action will be measured on 15 October 2016.

The Council is not bound by these recommendations. The Council will need to approve, amend or reject these proposals.

The College had a first discussion on the mid-term review of the MFF and will come back to this issue during its seminar on 30 and 31 August.

The Commission decided to formally register two ECIs-"Let'sfly2Europe: enable safe and legal access to Europefor refugees" and "People4Soil: sign the citizens' initiative to save the soils of Europe!" An ECI gives the possibility for an issue to be put on the College agenda for discussion and action, if it receives the backing of a million citizens from at least seven different Member States within one year of its registration.

President Juncker announced his decision to appoint Michel Barnier as Chief Negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU.

Source: European Commission News

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