The EU top court says that judicial reforms in Poland infringe upon EU law
In a recent ruling, the ECJ rescinded its fines for Poland but stated that radical changes in Poland's judicial system violate EU legislation, endangering the independence of judges. The AP news agency reported on the ruling which was handed down the day before.
The court's decision emphasizes that the 2019 judicial reform in Poland breaches EU law. The European Commission, the executive arm of the bloc, had previously stated that the Polish Supreme Court lacked the necessary independence and impartiality.
"Today's decision of the Court supports the Commission's action," the court's statement reads.
Thus, the ECJ sided with the European Commission, affirming that the judicial reform in Poland, which did not allow judges to question the legality of other judges' appointments, infringes upon EU legislation.
The issue of judges' status in Poland is escalating as the government drastically altered the method of their appointment. The reform also allowed Poland's now-defunct Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber to punish judges for their rulings.
"Even though the EU Treaties do not have the power to evaluate the organisation of the judicial authority, the ECJ found that it could evaluate Poland's," he said.
Kaleta questioned whether the ECJ has the right to make decisions on such matters.
The decision is a "mockery of European law and an expression of the attitude towards Poland as a state where Brussels elites try to test their anti-democratic visions," former Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, now a member of the European Parliament, said.
"Some parts of the decision are no longer in force or have been cancelled," said Poland's Minister for European Union Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk.
The court noted that Polish law requires judges to disclose membership in an association or party and allows this information to be made public. The court's decision states that these provisions "expose judges to the risk of improper stigmatisation."
The confrontation with the ECJ has cost Poland over 557 million euros in fines. Of this, the European Commission has recouped 360 million euros from Warsaw.
In the legal standoff between Brussels and Warsaw, EU leadership is also holding back roughly 35 billion euros (37 billion dollars) in recovery funds for Poland following the pandemic.
Monday's ECJ ruling cancels the fines, but does not affect Poland's obligation to pay daily penalties for past offences, according to the document.