The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. © Arne Immanuel Bänsch/dpa
The way the Polish government is turning the justice system upside down violates EU law. It is not the first verdict in the dispute between Warsaw and the EU Commission. But this decision could have consequences.
Luxembourg - Poland has suffered a final defeat in a dispute with the EU over the independence and private life of judges at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Following today's ruling, provisions of Poland's 2019 judicial reform violate EU law. The ruling from Luxembourg could also have an impact on a penalty payment previously imposed in summary proceedings.
The background to this is a lawsuit filed by the EU Commission in 2021, according to which several Polish regulations violate EU law. The Commission, as guardian of the EU treaties, is responsible for monitoring that states comply with EU law. It also repeatedly sues Germany before the ECJ in order to enforce compliance with EU law.
The current dispute was, among other things, about a law to discipline judges. The ECJ has now made it clear that the Polish rules do not guarantee access to an independent and impartial court. That includes the possibility for national courts to verify that they themselves or other courts comply with the requirements laid down in EU law.
Poland has been restructuring the judiciary for years
Poland's national-conservative government has been restructuring the country's judiciary for years, despite international criticism. The EU Commission has repeatedly complained against the reforms. In some cases, decisions were overturned by the ECJ.
Because Warsaw refused to implement earlier ECJ rulings, the Court finally imposed a penalty payment of one million euros per day within the case that has now been decided. The sentence was halved in the spring because the government has since made some changes to the judicial system.
From the EU's point of view, however, this is not enough. In February, the EU Commission again sued Poland for violations of EU law by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal. For Warsaw, the procedures are delicate, because there is now also a lot of money at stake: The EU Commission is withholding several billion euros from the Corona recovery fund for Poland because it has doubts about the justice system there. Dpa