Restoring the Rule of Law in Poland: An Assessment of the New Government’s Progress

June 17, 2024
2 min read
Photo credit: Adam Wasilewski /
Poland’s new government since December 2023 has made progress in restoring the rule of law—but the process is slow.

It is constrained by political factors, such as the president’s veto power. The government has presented an Action Plan containing several laws intended to end the rule-of-law crisis that has been ongoing since 2015, to bring Poland in compliance with the judgments of European courts, and to achieve genuine reforms in the judiciary and prosecution services. The reform is set to encompass laws concerning the National Council for the Judiciary, the Supreme Court, common courts, and the prosecution services.

Although none of these laws has been enacted and signed by the president yet, the European Commission has unblocked EU funds for Poland that had been withheld over the crisis. The EU has also ended the Article 7 procedure against Poland that had been in place since 2017 because it judged there is no longer a serious risk of the breach of the rule of law in the country.

The process of holding previous officials criminally accountable for abuse of office and corruption is beginning. An extensive misuse of the public Justice Fund in the Ministry of Justice to finance initiatives promoting politicians from the former minister of justice and prosecutor general was unveiled. There is a proposal in parliament to waive the immunity of the former deputy minister of justice in connection with the use of the Justice Fund to purchase of the controversial Pegasus surveillance software for the authorities. Important figures associated with the previous government ran on the Law and Justice list for the European Parliament in order to obtain immunity in this way and were elected.

The ideologically diverse parties in the governing coalition agree on the need to restore the rule of law and increase Poland’s democratic resilience. Prime Minister Donald Tusk must increasingly confront the impatience of his coalition’s voters demanding accountability for abuses of office and other crimes by official during the previous government, resolving the rule of law crisis, and improving the efficiency of the courts. Meanwhile, the whole electorate expects assurances regarding security and social protections. Failure to meet these expectations would likely pave the way for the return of the populist, anti-rule of law right.


Download the PDF