Polish judicial reform violates EU law

Poland has suffered a final defeat at the European Court of Justice in a dispute with the EU over the independence and privacy of judges.

According to the ruling, the 2019 judicial reform violates EU law.

The 2019 Polish judicial reform violates EU law. This was decided by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. The judges thus upheld a lawsuit by the EU Commission.

In particular, the disciplinary body for judges, which has since been abolished, has undermined judicial independence, it said. According to his critics, the main purpose of the chamber set up by the Polish government was to bring independent judges into line and – if they were too critical – to punish them. For example, with a forced transfer or with a farewell to early retirement.

Because Warsaw refused to implement earlier ECJ rulings, the court finally imposed a fine of one million euros per day within the now decided proceedings. The sentence was halved in the spring because the government has now made some changes to the justice system. From the EU’s point of view, however, this is not enough.

The ECJ has now confirmed in the main proceedings that the Disciplinary Chamber had violated EU law even after the changes. The independence of the judges was still not guaranteed. The possibility for the courts to invoke EU law has also been restricted.

Further proceedings against Poland in sight

Further proceedings against Poland are already foreseeable: In February, the EU Commission again sued the country for violations of EU law by the Polish Constitutional Court. The procedures are delicate for Warsaw, because a lot of money is now at stake: the EU Commission is holding back several billion euros from the Corona development fund for Poland because it has doubts about the judicial system there.

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