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EU lawsuit against Poland over court overhaul misguided: official

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 16.11.2018 16:30
The European Commission’s legal case against Poland over sweeping judicial changes is misguided and not based on fact, a Polish official said on Friday.
Poland's Supreme Court. Photo: Darwinek/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)Poland's Supreme Court. Photo: Darwinek/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bogusław Majczyna, a Polish foreign ministry official, was speaking before the European Union’s top court during a hearing on interim measures aiming to halt a reform of Poland's Supreme Court that has seen many of its judges forced into retirement.

The Court of Justice of the European Union in October issued an interim injuction saying that the contested reforms to Poland’s Supreme Court should be suspended.

That move by the EU's top court came after the European Commission launched a lawsuit against Poland amid a legal row between Warsaw and Brussels.

Legal wrangle

During Friday's hearing in Luxembourg, the European Commission and Poland both made their cases, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

A lawyer representing the European Commission argued that interim measures suspending a reform of Poland's Supreme Court were necessary because the overhaul by the country's ruling conservatives violated the principle of irremovability and independence of judges and could produce irreparable damage, the IAR news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Majczyna, who represented the Polish government, argued that the court’s preliminary decision on interim measures should be repealed, according to IAR.

He also said that the Commission's allegations were misguided and not based on fact, the news agency reported.

"It's hard for me to judge whether we convinced the court’s judges,” Majczyna said after the hearing, as quoted by IAR. “I hope the final decision will be made fairly quickly to cut short the doubts surrounding the [court’s] initial decision of October 19.”

The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union on October 19 said that Polish Supreme Court judges sent off into retirement should be reinstated in their posts, according to a report by Poland’s PAP news agency.

The EU Court of Justice at the time ordered that a reform of the Polish Supreme Court be suspended until a fuller ruling is made on the complaint submitted by the European Commission against Poland.

Poland sticking to its guns

The Polish foreign ministry issued a statement after Friday’s hearing to say that "Poland upheld its position previously communicated to the Court of Justice."

"A final judgment on this matter will be delivered at a later date,” the Polish foreign ministry added.

Earlier this year, a new law regulating Poland’s Supreme Court came into effect, setting a retirement age of 65 for judges.

In July, the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm launched a procedure against Warsaw over the reform, saying that it undermined “the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges.”

The move followed the European Commission last December taking the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over judicial reforms and possibly paving the way for sanctions being imposed on Poland.

But Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in late 2015, has said that sweeping changes were needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past, accusing judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.


Source: IAR

tags: judiciary
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