09 June 2018

Open Letter to Vice-President Frans Timmermans

European Commission

8 June, 2018

Dear Vice-President Timmermans,

We write as legal and constitutional scholars who are particularly concerned with the European Union, democracy, and the rule of law.   

We believe that the time has come for the EU institutions, and the Commission in particular, to take urgent and decisive steps to respond to recent actions of the Polish government that constitute an assault on the rule of law in that country.  The Law and Justice government has adopted laws relating to the courts, the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court which, when taken together, substantially undermine judicial independence and subordinate the judiciary to the governing party.

The procedure already initiated under Article 7 TEU has thus far brought about only cosmetic amendments to the laws introduced by the government of Poland.  We believe that the law on the Supreme Court should be made the subject of urgent and immediate infringement proceedings under Article 258 and Article 279 TFEU to highlight the violation of provisions such as Articles 2, 4(3) and 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union that the law on the Supreme Court would bring about. 

If the law on the Supreme Court enters into force in the beginning of July, as is currently planned, a large number of sitting judges of that Court will see their tenure unconstitutionally extinguished. In combination with an increase in the number of seats on the Supreme Court, this means that the newly politicized National Council of the Judiciary, elected by the governing party, will be in a position to appoint a majority of the judges on the Supreme Court. We believe this to be in direct contravention of the rule of law, which is proclaimed as a core value of the EU in Article 2 TEU, and of the fundamental requirement of the independence of the judiciary which is a key component of the rule of law.   

We urge the Commission to take the immediate necessary steps to initiate the infringement procedure, with a view to enabling the Court of Justice, in case these laws are not reversed, to rule on the matter. 

In addition to the threat to the rule of law in Poland, we believe that the credibility of the European Union as a whole, and its commitment to the rule of law, is at stake.

Yours sincerely,

Wojciech Sadurski, University of Sydney, University of Warsaw

Gráinne de Búrca, New York University

Bruce Ackerman, Yale University (for purposes of institutional identification only)

Jan Barcz, Kozminski University, Warsaw

Monica Claes, Maastricht University

Paul Craig, Oxford University

Bruno de Witte, Maastricht University and European University Institute, Florence

Gábor Halmai, European University Institute, Florence

Ronald Janse, Open University, Heerlen, the Netherlands

R. Daniel Kelemen, Rutgers University

Claire Kilpatrick, European University Institute, Florence

Tomasz Tadeusz Koncewicz, University of Gdansk; Program in Law and Public Affairs, Princeton University

Martin Krygier, University of New South Wales, Australia

Mattias Kumm, WZB Berlin and New York University

Marcin Matczak, University of Warsaw

Vlad Perju, Boston College

Laurent Pech, Middlesex University London

Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton University

Robert Schuetze,  Durham University and College of Europe, Bruges

Joanne Scott, European University Institute, Florence

Maximilian Steinbeis,  Verfassungsblog

Neil Walker, University of Edinburgh

Stephen Weatherill, Oxford University

If you wish to co-sign this letter and show your support, please leave a comment with your name and affiliation. Much appreciated! Verfassungsblog

SUGGESTED CITATION  de Búrca, Gráinne; Sadurski, Wojciech: Open Letter to Vice-President Frans Timmermans, VerfBlog, 2018/6/09, https://verfassungsblog.de/open-letter-to-vice-president-frans-timmermans/, DOI: 10.17176/20180611-100321-0.


  1. Paul Blokker Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 12:56 - Reply

    Paul Blokker, Charles University in Prague

  2. Dimitry Kochenov Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:15 - Reply

    Dimitry Kochenov, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

  3. Joris Larik Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:20 - Reply

    Joris Larik, Leiden University, The Netherlands

  4. Magdalena Konopka Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:26 - Reply

    #IDemandRuleOfLaw #Poland

  5. Sebastian Pisarski Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:33 - Reply

    As one of the polish civil servants of European Commission – I fully support this letter/initiative and urge EU Institutions to take concrete measures aimed at protecting the values and principles upon which EU was built.

    • Jerry Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 16:59 - Reply

      The EU of Robert Schuman was a Europe based on Christian values. Now, it is the tyranny of left-wing political corectness. Which values do you mention?

  6. Filip Kmiec Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:38 - Reply

    I fully support our letter!

  7. Dawid Milczarek Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:48 - Reply

    I fully support this open letter.

  8. Krzysztof Podemski Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:58 - Reply

    I fully agree with the message of that letter and support its Authors.
    Krzysztof Podemski, sociologist, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

  9. Bojan Bugaric Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 13:58 - Reply


  10. Mikolaj Iwanski Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 14:15 - Reply

    I fully support this open letter.

    Mikolaj Iwanski
    assistant proffesor
    Chair of Criminal Law
    Jagiellonian University

  11. bOLESŁAW WAŁESA Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 14:31 - Reply


  12. Barbara Lyszczarz, LL.M. (Harvard) Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 14:33 - Reply

    I fully support the message of this letter.

  13. Janusz Krupa Sat 9 Jun 2018 at 14:47 - Reply

    I fully support this open letter. I also demand Rule Of Law in Poland

  14. Ulad Belavusau Sat 9 Jun