December 9, 2022

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Verhofstadt threatens a blame move against von der Leyen |  Abroad

Verhofstadt threatens a blame move against von der Leyen | Abroad

Guy Verhofstadt (Open VLD) and two other members of the European Parliament’s Liberal Renewal group are threatening to vote on a motion to blame the European Commission. If approved, the commission must resign. Verhofstadt accuses President Ursula von der Leyen and her commissioners of approving Poland’s recovery plan without any guarantees from Warsaw about the rule of law.

Last week, more than a year after its introduction, the commission gave the green light to Poland’s recovery plan. This opens the door to more than 35 billion euros in grants and loans. However, there was immediate criticism that the commission wanted to release the money without Warsaw taking action to restore the independence of the Polish judiciary – albeit an express condition set by the commission.

In the European Parliament, liberal MEPs Guy Verhofstadt, Sophie en Field and Louis Garicano now want to introduce a motion to assign blame to the Commission. According to them, he is “well aware that the Polish redemption procedure (in connection with the rule of law, ed.) is purely cosmetic.” Liberals also complain that the Commission does not respect the rulings of the European Court of Justice, and therefore does not take its role as custodian of treaties seriously.

This is why they are looking for enough support to prepare a proposal. They need the signatures of about seventy members of Parliament. They want the same proposal to be put to a vote if the Commission transfers funds from the European Recovery Fund to Poland without first implementing relevant court rulings, the dismissed Polish judges are reinstated and Warsaw recognizes the primacy of European law.

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Ursula von der Leyen. © Photo News

If the motion is passed by two-thirds of the MPs present, who together make up a majority of the total 705 MEPs, the Commission must resign.

Parliament will debate the commission’s decision to approve the recovery plan on Tuesday. Most of all, MEPs want to hear how lenient the Commission has been with the conditions it has set. Before any European money is released, Warsaw must close the notorious Disciplinary Chamber for judges, reform its disciplinary system for judges and reinstate judges who have been unfairly dismissed, President von der Leyen has always said.

If the commission no longer adheres to these conditions, parliament can intervene, for example by supporting a proposal such as Verhofstadt’s, according to different groups. But that is not the case yet. So the proposal is described as “an initiative by Verhofstadt, not even supported by his own group”.