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EU executive opens new case against Poland over judges

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 03.04.2019 14:00
The European Commission on Wednesday said it was launching an infringement procedure against Warsaw over new disciplinary rules for judges, the latest step in a protracted row over alleged rule-of-law breaches in Poland.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans speaks at a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans speaks at a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.Photo: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

The Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, argued that the new rules undermined the independence of Polish judges "by not offering necessary guarantees to protect them from political control."

It added that such guarantees were required by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Poland's governing Law and Justice party, which came to power in late 2015, has said that sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past.

But the European Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that it had launched an infringement procedure by sending a "letter of formal notice" to Poland regarding the country's "disciplinary regime for judges.”

The Polish government has two months to reply, the European Commission said.

According to the Commission, new Polish legal regulations make it possible "to subject ordinary court judges to disciplinary investigations, procedures and ultimately sanctions, on account of the content of their judicial decisions."

The EU's executive added: "Also, the new disciplinary regime does not guarantee the independence and impartiality of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court which reviews decisions taken in disciplinary proceedings against judges. This Disciplinary Chamber is composed solely of new judges selected by the National Council for the Judiciary whose judges-members are now appointed by the Polish parliament (Sejm)."

Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans was quoted as saying at a news conference that disciplinary measures for judges that Poland’s ruling conservatives introduced in 2017 appeared “to systematically subject judges to the political control of the executive.”

The European Commission's move on Wednesday was the latest in a series of clashes between Brussels and Warsaw over sweeping changes to the country’s judicial system.

In July last year, the European Commission launched a procedure against Warsaw over contested reforms to Poland’s Supreme Court, arguing they undermined “the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges.”

That move followed the European Commission in December 2017 taking the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over judicial reforms.

The Polish government has since moved to modify the disputed legal changes.

Poland’s prime minister argued in January that some of the legal changes made by his conservative government have met with criticism abroad because they are not understood in Western Europe.


Source: IAR, europa.eu

the European Commission said.

The Commission
tags: justice
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