Rule of Law: European Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice to protect judges from political control

justice

(Wesley Tingey

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the European Commission decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU regarding the new disciplinary regime for Polish judges, requesting an expedited procedure.

On 3 April 2019, the Commission launched this infringement procedure on the grounds that the new disciplinary regime undermines the judicial independence of Polish judges and does not ensure the necessary guarantees to protect judges from political control, as required by the Court of Justice of the EU.

Specifically, the Polish law allows ordinary court judges to be subjected to disciplinary investigations, procedures and sanctions on the basis of the content of their judicial decisions, including the exercise of their right under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to request preliminary rulings from the Court of Justice of the EU. Moreover, the new disciplinary regime does not guarantee the independence and impartiality of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which is composed solely of judges selected by the National Council for the Judiciary, which is itself politically appointed by the Polish Parliament (Sejm). Furthermore, the new disciplinary regime does not ensure that a court ‘established by law’ will decide in the first instance on disciplinary proceedings against ordinary court judges. Instead, it empowers the President of the Disciplinary Chamber to determine, on an ad-hoc basis and with an almost unfettered discretion, the disciplinary court of first instance to hear a given case brought against an ordinary court judge. The new regime no longer guarantees that cases are processed within a reasonable timeframe, allowing the Minister of Justice to keep charges pending over ordinary court judges through disciplinary officers appointed by the Minister. The new regime also affects ordinary court judges’ right of defence. In short, judges are not insulated from political control and thus judicial independence is violated.

On 3 April 2019, the Commission addressed a letter of formal notice to Poland. Following a thorough analysis of the response received, the Commission concluded that the response did not alleviate the legal concerns, and took the next step in the process, sending a reasoned opinion on 17 July 2019. In its latest response, Poland again failed to address the Commission’s concerns.

The Commission has therefore decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU. In view of the potential impact of the disciplinary regime on judicial independence, a request for an expedited procedure is warranted, to obtain a final judgment as soon as possible. This would also be in line with the Commission’s Communication of 17 July 2019 entitled “Strengthening the rule of law within the Union – A blueprint for action”, which underlines that building on its existing approach to enforcement and on developing case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, the Commission will pursue a strategic approach to infringement proceedings related to the rule of law, requesting expedited proceedings and interim measures whenever necessary.

Background

The rule of law is one of the common values upon which the European Union is founded and common to all Member States. It is enshrined as such in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The rule of law is essential for the functioning of the EU as a whole, for example with regard to the internal market, cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs, and ensuring that national judges, who are also EU judges, can fulfil their role in ensuring the application of EU law and can properly interact with the Court of Justice of the EU in the context of preliminary ruling procedures. The Commission’s Communications of 3 April and 17 July 2019 on the rule of law explain the existing toolbox for enforcing the rule of law and the Commission’s actions and proposals to further strengthen that toolbox.

The European Commission, together with other Union institutions and the Member States, is responsible under the Treaties for guaranteeing the rule of law as a fundamental value of our Union and making sure that EU law, values and principles are respected.

Events in Poland led the European Commission to open a dialogue with the Polish Government in January 2016 under the Rule of Law Framework and then activate the Article 7(1) TEU procedure on 20 December 2017. The process is based on a continuous dialogue between the Commission and the Member State concerned. The Commission keeps the European Parliament and Council regularly informed.

In addition, on 2 July 2018, the Commission launched an infringement procedure on the Polish law on the Supreme Court, on the grounds of its retirement provisions and their impact on the independence of the Supreme Court. On 24 September 2018, the Commission decided to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU, which delivered its final judgement on 24 June 2019. The Court has found that lowering the retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court is contrary to EU law and breaches the principle of the irremovability of judges and thus that of judicial independence.

On 29 July 2017, the Commission launched an infringement procedure on the Polish Law on Ordinary Courts, on the grounds of its retirement provisions and their impact on the independence of the judiciary. The Commission decided to refer this case to the Court of Justice of the EU on 20 December 2017.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Booking.com commits to align practices presenting offers and prices with EU law following EU action

4 crazy things that are happening in the Arctic right now

How storytelling can be a force for social change

Retirees will outlive their savings by a decade

Commission reinforces tools to ensure Europe’s interests in international trade

Hostilities in Syria’s southwest, mean cuts in vital aid across Jordanian border: Senior UN official

Why informal networks will be key to the COVID-19 recovery

The Commission offers exit from the EU budget stalemate

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Building a Sustainable Future – speech by UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw at the LPAA Thematic Event on Buildings

UN experts decry torture of Rakhine men and boys held incommunicado by Myanmar’s military

Why cybersecurity matters more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic

Employment and Social Developments in Europe review: why social fairness and solidarity are more important than ever

Why our future relies on more inclusive and transparent innovation

Armenia should take vigorous measures against entrenched corruption

Climate action ‘both a priority and a driver of the decade’: Guterres

Politics is failing to protect the Amazon. It’s time for finance to step up instead

MWC 2016 LIVE: Getty chief says one in four new images from phones

Statement by Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, on the announcement to postpone the COP26

This entrepreneur built an island resort out of plastic waste

EU Top Jobs summit ended with no agreement: welcome to Europe’s quicksand!

Reopening schools too early could spread COVID-19 even faster – especially in the developing world

EU foreign investment screening mechanism becomes fully operational

Climate change and health: Raising awareness is the key for greener actions

Draghi’s top new year resolution: Quantitative Easing

Several crises in one: what effects will COVID-19 have on the global risk landscape?

EU Summit/Migration: Parliament calls for joint solutions based on solidarity

The widely advertised hazards of the EU not that ominous; the sting is financial woes

These 4 skills can make the world better after COVID-19

What do the economic woes of Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia have in common?

We probably should go back to the therapy in Primary Healthcare

How UN cultural treasures helped set the stage for Game of Thrones

“ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to the EU

Africa cannot afford to lose doctors to COVID-19

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

Monday’s Daily Brief: Independent UN experts on Myanmar, UN chief renounces attacks in US, Libyan airport violence, UN spokesperson on Kashmir, and FAO and Italy on development

What does ‘excess deaths’ mean – and can it give a clearer picture of the number of coronavirus fatalities?

If on a summer’s night: is UK businesses’ “new deal” the only key to the “best of all worlds”?

4 key steps towards a circular economy

Increased levels of carbon dioxide could reduce brainpower, study finds

Tsipras bewildered with Berlin’s humiliating demands; ECB expects political sign to refinance the Greek banks

How has technology changed – and changed us – in the past 20 years?

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Bayer’s animal health division by Elanco, subject to conditions

Companies can help solve water scarcity. Here’s how

US pardons for accused war criminals, contrary to international law: UN rights office

There is no recipe for a healthy mental state

UN condemns ‘cowardly’ attack on Libya’s national oil corporation headquarters

Civil protection: Parliament strengthens EU disaster response capability

Taking fast road to ‘e-mobility’ central to a sustainable future: COP24

‘Stop and listen’ to victims of terrorism, UN chief urges in message marking international day

Brussels enraged with Swiss referendum result to keep out EU citizens

Malaysia has achieved high levels of growth, but must do more to address governance and social challenges

PM May fosters chauvinism, declares trade war on Europe

UN Human Rights chief urges Venezuela to halt grave rights violations

COVID-19: Budget MEPs call for quick progress on post-2020 contingency plan

Hungary: Commission takes next step in the infringement procedure for non-provision of food in transit zones

DR Congo: ‘No time to lose’ says newly appointed UN Ebola response coordinator

Who cares about the unity of Ukraine?

Algorithms are being used to convict criminals and decide jail time. We need to make sure they are fair

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s