The European Commission (EC) finally launched on Monday, July 2nd, an infringement procedure against Poland over a controversial Supreme Court law. As of Tuesday, July 3rd, this text forces, 27 out of 72 judges to leave their positions because the age of retirement decreased from 70 to 65. This measure also applies to the president of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, whose 6-year mandate, guaranteed by the constitution, would be terminated prematurely.
On Monday, the Commission stated that « these measures undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges » and that Poland does not fulfill its obligations under the the Treaty on European Union (Article 19(1)) and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 47). The law on the Polish Supreme Court has already been discussed in the framework of the Rule of Law Dialogue between the Commission and the Polish authorities, but « has not been satisfactorily addressed through this process ». However, the ultra-conservative PiS (Law and Justice) government in Warsaw had already announced, after this laborious dialogue with Brussels, that it did not intend to back down on the main principles of the reform.
Warsaw has one month to respond to the Commission’s notification. The EC could then bring the case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), with possible financial sanctions, in case of dissatisfaction. A legal battle seems to be in the making.
For further information:
- European commission (02.07.2018) « Rule of Law: Commission launches infringement procedure to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court » Press release http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4341_en.htm
- Le Monde (02.03.2018) « Pologne et Etat de droit, dangereuse impasse » https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/07/02/pologne-et-etat-de-droit-dangereuse-impasse_5324414_3232.html
- Le Monde (02.07.2018) « Union européenne : procédure d’infraction contre la Pologne pour sa réforme de la Cour suprême » https://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2018/07/02/union-europeenne-procedure-d-infraction-contre-la-pologne-pour-sa-reforme-de-la-cour-supreme_5324482_3214.html