The European Union’s superior court determined today that, Warsaw has disobeyed the bloc’s regulations on judicial independence, for which it had previously paid fines totaling in excess of 500 million euro.
The Court of Justice of the EU concluded that, Poland’s 2019 justice reform violated EU law. The executive arm of the European Commission affirmed the verdict that, the Polish Supreme Court lacked the required impartiality and autonomy. “By today’s judgment, the Court upholds the Commission’s action,” a court statement read.
The verdict has been the most recent in a string of defeats for Poland’s Nationalist Conservative ruling party, which infuriated a lot of Poles with what they see as a drastic decline in democracy. That mood culminated in the greatest anti-government demonstration in Poland’s post-communist era, in Warsaw.
Donald Tusk, the leader of the opposition claimed that, 500,000 Poles participated in the march. The EU court’s decision has been deemed as “bad news for the government,” according to the conservative news tabloids. The government-run TVP, which serves as the ruling party’s propaganda outlet, claimed that the EU court exceeded its bounds and was “attacking Poland again.” “The court went beyond its authority,” the pro-government media claimed.
However, attorneys and other legal professionals applauded the ruling of the court in the hopes that, it may help the judiciary regain its autonomy.
According to the European Union court, “the value of the rule of law is an integral part of the very identity of the European Union as a common legal order and is given concrete expression in principles containing legally binding obligations for the Member States.” It claimed that, Poland had broken these commitments.
Following an uproar of criticisms, the court stated that, “the measures thus adopted by the Polish legislature are incompatible with the guarantees of access to an independent and impartial tribunal.”
Szymon Szynkowski vel Sk, Poland’s Minister for the EU, said that some provisions of the judgement were no more in effect or have been eliminated.
According to the court, Polish law mandates that, judges disclose their affiliations with parties, and permits the public release of such data. Per the court’s ruling, the clauses are “liable to expose judges to risks of undue stigmatization.”
The Warsaw conservative administration and the EU institutions have been at odds over number of issues, including the Supreme Court’s operation. It asserts that Poland’s fundamental liberty to make its own judgments are being undermined by the bloc.
However, EU institutions have maintained that, Poland has been moving away from the union’s ideals of the rule of law, under the populist Law and Justice party. The issue at hand pertains the judges of the Polish Supreme Court’s impartiality when considering EU law.
A week ago, the Polish administration intentions for a new law, that may prevent political opponents from occupying public office without full legal consequences, were denounced by top judicial officials of the United States and the EU.
Moreover, the Polish administration has accused the EU officials of delaying the distribution of about $35 billion in pandemic recovery money, because of the ongoing legal dispute between Brussels and Warsaw.
Along with other countries from Central and Eastern Europe, Poland entered the EU following the fall of the Soviet Union. They served as long-term example for other newly emerging democracies, because they overcame authoritarianism. According to critics, Poland and Hungary are gradually inching closer to authoritarian one-party government.