ECJ to rule on Poland’s supreme court law
News | 24.09.2018
The European Commission asked the bloc’s highest court Monday to rule on the legality of a controversial judicial law introduced by the Polish government, a move that could eventually result in significant fines.
The European Court of Justice will rule on whether or not the Polish government has violated “the principle of judicial independence” with its law on the supreme court, the Commission said in a statement.
If the court concludes that Poland has violated EU laws and if Poland doesn’t comply with the ruling, Warsaw could end up paying large financial penalties “based on the duration and severity on the infringement and the size of the Member State,” according to the Commission.
The Polish government law, which took effect in April, imposes a lower retirement age, removing many of the court’s judges including its president. It also allows the country’s president to prolong the mandates of judges affected by the new retirement policy if they ask for it. Critics say the law violates the Polish constitution by handing politicians power over the country’s legislative branch.
“The implementation of the law … is creating a serious and irreparable damage to judicial independence in Poland, and therefore to the EU legal order,” the statement said. “The Commission has therefore moved to the next stage of the infringement procedure, deciding to refer the case to the Court of Justice.”
The request for interim measures, the statement said, are meant to “restore Poland’s Supreme Court to its situation before April 3 2018,” the date the law entered into force.
In July, the Commission launched an infringement procedure against Poland over the law but the government “has failed to alleviate the Commission’s legal concerns,” the statement added. The Polish Supreme Court has also asked the European Court of Justice to rule on the new law.
Last December, the Commission initiated so-called Article 7 proceedings against Poland, beginning a process that theoretically could lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the Council. In reality, the procedure has virtually no chance of success because Poland’s allies, particularly Hungary, have pledged to block it.
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