III - Changes to Constitutional Law

Nature national instruments   
What is the character of the legal instruments adopted at national level to implement Euro-crisis law (constitutional amendment, organic laws, ordinary legislation, etc)?

Changes into the Constitution were not introduced and are not planned. Only the ordinary legislation is amended or new pieces of ordinary legislation prepared.

Constitutional amendment
Have there been any constitutional amendments in response to the Euro-crisis or related to Euro-crisis law? Or have any amendments been proposed?

No amendments were proposed so far. The Constitution will need an amendment when Poland will be joining the Eurozone.

Constitutional context    
If national constitutional law already contained relevant elements, such as a balanced budget rule or independent budgetary councils, before the crisis that are now part of Euro-crisis law, what is the background of these rules?

The Polish Constitution and the Public Finances Act (ustawa o finansach publicznych) enshrine fiscal rules on public debt.

Art. 216 par. 5 PC states that:

It shall be neither permissible to contract loans nor provide guarantees and financial sureties which would engender a national public debt exceeding three-fifths of the value of the annual gross domestic product. The method for calculating the value of the annual gross domestic product and national public debt shall be specified by statute.

The Polish Constitution enshrined this provision since its enactment in 1997.

Moreover, Art. 220 par. 1& 2 provide that:

The increase in spending or the reduction in revenues from those planned by the Council of Ministers may not lead to the adoption by the Sejm of a budget deficit exceeding the level provided in the draft Budget.

The Budget shall not provide for covering a budget deficit by way of contracting credit obligations to the State’s central bank.

Art. 86 of the Public Finances Act (2009) provides three security thresholds:

       if the public debt exceeds 50%GDP, the Council of Ministers must prepare the Budgetary Act, where the relationship between the budgetary deficit and the budgetary income is not higher than in the current year (similarly in the regional budgets);

       If the public debt exceeds 55%GDP, the Council of Ministers must prepare such Budgetary Act, where a deficit is not foreseen or the relationship between the deficit and the GDP at the end of the year is lower than currently, with a simultaneous limitation on the deficits of the regional entities. The Council of Ministers must present to the Sejm a reform programme aiming at decreasing the relationship between the public debt and the GDP;

       If the public debt exceeds 60%GDP, the public finances units do not have a right to give assurances or guarantees, the Council of Ministers, within a month after the relationship between the public debt and the GDP is revealed, must present a reform programme, leading to a decrease of the public debt under 60%GDP and the Budgetary Act for the next year and the budgets of the regional units may not foresee any deficit.

Law on Public Finances contains also a ‘disciplining expenditure rule’ (Art.112a) limiting the growth of certain budget expenditure to forecast CPI inflation rate increased by 1 percentage point, which has been replaced by the ‘stabilizing fiscal rule’ (Cf. Question VII.7).

Purpose constitutional amendment 
What is the purpose of the constitutional amendment and what is its position in the constitution?

Not relevant for Poland.

Relationship with EU law 
Is the constitutional amendment seen as changing the relationship between national and European constitutional law?

Not relevant for Poland.

Organic law
Have there been changes to organic laws or other types of legislation that are of a different nature or level than ordinary legislation, in relation to Euro-crisis law or the budgetary process?

Not relevant for Poland.

Constitutional amendment and ordinary law      
If ordinary legislation was adopted in conjunction with a constitutional amendment, what is the relationship between the two?

Not relevant for Poland.

Perception source of legal change 
In the public and political discussions on the adoption of ordinary legislation, what was the perception on the appropriate legal framework? Was the ordinary legislation seen as implementing national constitutional law, or Euro-crisis law?

As the parliamentary debates on the Treaty Amendment, the Fiscal Compact and the Six Pack show (see the relevant questions in the questionnaire), the perception was that it is an implementation of Euro-crisis law. This is even more visible in the fact that no constitutional amendments were introduced and the only planned changes concern infra-constitutional law (e.g. the Public Finances Act). Yet, the new stabilising fiscal rule seems to serve both improving the national financial frameworks and implementing the directive 2011/85/EU.[1]

What other information is relevant with regard to Poland and to changes to national (constitutional) law?

No other relevant information.

[1]  Cf. Uzasadnienie do zmiany ustawy o finansach publicznych (Justification for the amendment of the Public Finances Act, see attachment), p.3.