World Commission turns to the CJEU

Commission turns to the CJEU

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ATuesday evening, the EU Commission drew its sharpest sword in conflict with the government in Poland. She decided to send a rush request to the European Court of Justice (ECJ): to instruct Poland to overturn the Supreme Court's disciplinary chamber. Otherwise, Polish judges face “irreparable damage,” said a spokesman for the commission on Wednesday. The "intimidation effect" on the judges would increase. The CJEU could now bring down one of the most important reforms the national-conservative PiS government wants to restructure the judiciary within days.

Gerhard Gnauck

Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.

Thomas Gutschker

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

The disciplinary chamber at the Supreme Court, which is to judge in disciplinary proceedings against judges – including those of the Supreme Court itself – was only launched by the government majority in 2018. Its ten judges were selected by the State Justice Council, which is clearly dominated by government-friendly representatives. In contrast, the majority of the Supreme Court judges, including President Malgorzata Gersdorf, have been able to hold onto their posts despite the government's attempt to drive them out of office by reducing their retirement age. The ECJ had already dealt with the disciplinary chamber in mid-November, at the request of the Supreme Court. The latter wanted to know whether the newly "added" disciplinary body met the basic requirements of European law.

Template for the Polish colleagues

The Luxembourg judges generally ruled that a court had to be independent. This was not the case if the objective circumstances in which the court was formed and the way in which its judges were appointed "raised legitimate doubts". This applies in particular to direct or indirect influences on the part of the legislature and the executive. The referring court must decide whether this is the case. However, the Luxembourg decision could be understood as a template for the Polish colleagues.

And this is how it happened: The Supreme Court in Poland stated at the beginning of December "that the Disciplinary Chamber is not a court in the sense of EU law and therefore not a court in the sense of national law". The government did not change anything in the chamber. Rather, before Christmas, she whipped another law through the Sejm. It increases disciplinary sanctions against judges, for example for “political” activities.

. (tagsToTranslate) Katarina Barley (t) Malgorzata Gersdorf (t) CJEU (t) European Commission (t) European Union (t) PiS (t) Disciplinary Body

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