Updated: Verdict on naughty Warsaw: According to the EU court, the reform of the Polish judiciary violates EU law | News

Polish judicial reform introducing a system of disciplinary sanctions for judges violates European Union law. This is the conclusion reached today by the Court of Justice of the EU, which upheld the European Commission’s lawsuit in a several-year dispute with the Polish conservative government over political influence of Polish courts.

The disciplinary panel of the Polish Supreme Court, which had the power to decide on the dismissal of judges, was not impartial and independent, according to the highest body of the EU judiciary. Today’s verdict ends Warsaw’s obligation to pay a fine of half a million euros (11.8 million crowns) to the EU coffers every day. However, if they do not comply with the judgment, the court can award Poland another financial sanction. In response to the verdict, the Polish Minister of Justice called the EU court corrupt.

In December 2019, as part of a reform criticized by the domestic opposition and the EU authorities, Poland adopted a law changing the national rules for the organization of general courts and the Polish Supreme Court. According to the commission, the regulation, which entrusted the decision on disciplinary offenses of judges to the hands of the disciplinary college, whose independence and impartiality is not guaranteed, limited the independence of Polish courts.

According to today’s verdict, the independence of Polish judges can be affected by the mere prospect “that such a body could decide on questions related to their status and the performance of their duties”. In addition, the EU court came to the conclusion that, in view of the “relative breadth and imprecision of the provisions of the amendment law”, this provision could lead to a limitation of the guarantee of citizens’ access to an independent and impartial court.

Judges in Luxembourg also confirmed the commission’s opinion that the amendment violates judges’ right to privacy and protection of personal data by forcing them to submit information about membership in political parties, non-profit foundations or other associations, which are subsequently published on the Internet. Today’s sentence is final and there is no appeal against it.

“Today is an important day for restoring the independence of the judiciary in Poland,” European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders commented on the verdict. The Commission is currently blocking Poland from tens of billions of euros from the emergency fund to help economies after the covid pandemic precisely because of the judicial reform.

On the other hand, the Polish Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro stated that the EU court itself violated EU law by interfering with the competence of the member states and that the judgment was the result of the work of politicians and not judges. “The EU’s highest court is corrupt,” he said. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party says the reform aims to rid the judiciary of people linked to the totalitarian communist regime. However, the opposition is of the opinion that the government is only trying to strengthen its influence on the courts and, should PiS succeed in the autumn elections, it will completely subjugate the judiciary. According to polls, PiS maintains a slight lead over the liberal opposition.

Two years ago, the EU Court already issued a preliminary measure ordering Poland to suspend the activities of the disciplinary chamber until the verdict is delivered. The Polish government refused, and the court therefore fined Warsaw a million euros a day the day before last October. Poland later replaced the Disciplinary Chamber with another body and sought the cancellation of the fine. The EU Court only reduced it by half in April. The obligation to pay ends today, but Warsaw must pay the entire amount owed.

Source: Zprávy – Tiscali.cz by zpravy.tiscali.cz.

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