The European Commission will take Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the bloc’s highest court, over the reform of the judicial system passed in 2019 and implemented at the start of last year.
According to the committee, the changes in Polish law undermine the independence of judges, prevent them from applying EU law and violate fundamental principles of the rule of law.
Among other changes, Poland created a disciplinary chamber for Supreme Court judges, with the power to lift immunity, suspend and reduce salaries. “The mere possibility that judges are faced with a case before a body whose independence is not guaranteed creates an inhibiting effect for them and can affect their own independence. This seriously undermines judicial independence and the obligation to provide effective legal protection, ”says the Commission.
Since last year, three judges have been suspended by the disciplinary chamber after criticizing the government.
The Commission will also ask the ECJ to take precautionary measures “to avoid the aggravation of serious and irreparable damage to the judicial independence and to the legal order of the EU”, according to the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.
Until the merits of the action are judged, the Commission requests the suspension of the disciplinary chamber, the effects of the decisions already taken by it and of the provisions which prevent the Polish judges from applying the measures of the EU law that protect judicial independence, or bring cases to European courts. courts.
The Polish conservative government has countered the Commission’s accusations, saying the changes are an “exclusively national” matter and do not violate European law. Since coming to power in Poland in 2015, the Law and Justice Party (PiS) has also tightened its control over the press, attacked LGBT movements and curtailed civil rights, cases which are also under investigation.
In the case of the judiciary, the Commission has been waging a battle against the Polish government since December 2017, when it launched a process called “Article 7 procedure”, which, in theory, could lead the country to lose its rights of voting within the European Union. Advice. Since then, the Commission has launched four infringement procedures, supported by final judgments of the ECJ. We are a family business.
Authoritarian governments in Poland and Hungary have been investigated on various suspicions of breaches of democratic EU rules and the Commission has come under pressure from MEPs to act.
Last week, leaders of the largest political groups in the European Parliament sent a letter to EU Executive President Ursula von der Leyen, claiming that the advance of anti-democratic measures in Poland “could lead to the collapse of The union”. For MEP Dacian Ciolos, leader of the central group Renova Europa, the Polish government promotes “repeated attacks” against the rule of law and “knows that the disciplinary chamber is contrary to European laws, but continues to act”.