Foreign Min: no grounds from EC to suspend judicial reform

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Another episode of the Polish dispute with the EU over the judiciary reform evolved on Friday, as a hearing of both sides took place at the EU Court of Justice (CJEU).

In October, the Polish government’s judicial reform was temporarily suspended by the CJEU to investigate whether the reform as such is in violation of European law.

Friday’s meeting was dedicated to hearing the arguments of both sides before the CJEU judges announce their verdict on the need to uphold the temporary measures, that included the reinstatement of judges who were forced to retire by the reform.

Representing the European Commission (EC), Saulius Kalėda, said that the Polish Supreme Court bill violates the irremovability of judges which in turn is one of the major features of a community of the states which respects the rule of law. He argued that the irremovability of judges “constitutes a guarantee of their independence. The EC upholds its view that this rule has been violated as one third of Polish judges is forced to retire following the reform’s introduction.”

Therefore, Mr Kalėda said, the provisional measures are required so judicial independence is guaranteed until the CJEU’s final verdict on the case.

Representing Poland, Bogusław Majczyna from the foreign ministry considered these claims groundless. He said that “for the provisional measures to be introduced, the European Commission needs to present evidence that a risk of irreversible damage exists”, evidence that, according Poland, “was not presented by the EC” which limited its arguments to “simply hypotheses”.

The statement released in the aftermath of the meeting by the Polish foreign ministry reiterated these claims.

“The [European] Commision did not indicate any conditions necessary for the introduction of the provisional measures by the CJEU. According to Poland, the European Commission did not present justification either that such far-going measures are legally and substantially justified or that irreversible damage may be inflicted unless they are enforced before the final CJEU ruling.”

Mr Majczyna said that “we tried to convince that judges that there is no need to introduce the temporary measures but it is hard to assess whether we have accomplished that.”

According to Polish Radio correspondent Beata Płomecka, the final decision whether the temporary measures are necessary or not, will be released by Christmas.

On top of the temporary measures, the meritum of the case is the dispute between the EC and Poland over the legality of the judiciary reform. The CJEU’s final verdict on this issue is expected in the spring next year.