EU takes Poland to court over law that “undermines judges” | European Commission

The European Commission has said it is taking Poland to the bloc’s highest court for a legal change it says undermines the independence of judges and prevents them from applying EU law, sparking an instant response and provocative from Warsaw.

In the latest round of a long-standing rule of law dispute, Brussels said on Wednesday it was also asking the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to issue an interim order suspending Poland’s 2019 law. until his final judgment is rendered.

“The committee considers that the law undermines the independence of the judiciary in Poland and is incompatible with the rule of Union law”, declared the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, at a conference of hurry.

The Polish nationalist government said there was no legal or factual justification for the move. A government spokesperson said that the judiciary was “an exclusively national domain” and that Polish regulations “do not deviate from EU standards”.

The judicial law, which entered into force in February 2020, prevents Polish judges from submitting questions of law to the ECJ and created a national body to rule on the independence of judges without regard to EU law.

It also created a “disciplinary chamber” to oversee the country’s Supreme Court justices, with the power to lift their immunity from criminal prosecution, temporarily suspend them from office and reduce their salaries.

The chamber, which is mostly made up of government loyalists, has so far suspended three Supreme Court justices after criticizing the changes and other Justice Department policies.

The committee, which initiated infringement proceedings against Poland in 2017, said in its referral that the 2019 law is incompatible with the rule of EU law and, through disciplinary measures, effectively prevents courts directly apply EU law.

“Polish judges are also European judges,” said Věra Jourová, vice-president of the committee. “They apply EU law and contribute to the mutual trust on which Europe is built. National governments are free to reform the justice system but must respect EU treaties.

The committee said it was calling for interim measures “to prevent further serious and irreparable damage to the independence of the judiciary and the EU legal order”. The decision was “a crucial step in the infringement procedure,” Reynders said.

The dismissal is part of a long-standing campaign by the EU executive to bring the populist nationalist governments of Poland and Hungary back to what it sees as European democratic standards.

The leaders of the main political parties in the European Parliament sent a letter last week to the chair of the committee, Ursula von der Leyen, saying that the erosion of the rule of law in Poland “could eventually lead to the collapse of The union “.

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