The European Commission on Tuesday turned to the Court of Justice of the EU to rein in Poland’s judicial changes, asking it to order Warsaw to suspend the functioning of the disciplinary chamber of the Polish Supreme Court.
The chamber is supposed to discipline Polish judges, but the Commission has expressed fears about the body, last year saying that Poland’s disciplinary system “undermines the judicial independence of Polish judges and does not ensure the necessary guarantees to protect judges from political control.”
If the ECJ carries out the Commission’s request, the Polish government will have to suspend the disciplinary chamber until the judges in Luxembourg give their final ruling in an infringement case filed against Poland by the Commission last year for undermining judicial independence.
The ECJ has already issued one judgment on this particular issue. Three Polish Supreme Court justices had asked the EU court to determine if the disciplinary chamber offered “sufficient guarantees of independence under EU law.” In its response, the ECJ said Polish courts should determine whether the chamber and the National Council of the Judiciary, which is responsible for judicial appointments, are “sufficiently independent.”
The Polish Supreme Court found that the disciplinary chamber did not meet those requirements, and therefore was not a court of law.
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