EU opens new case against Poland over Supreme Court changes

04 Juillet, 2018, 17:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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Worldwide organisations and activists have accused the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) of using the reform as a way of controlling what for three decades has been an independent judiciary system.

The European Union's executive arm gave Poland a month to respond, which means the legal procedure will not stop the law entering into force on Tuesday.

The European Commission launched legal proceedings against the Polish government on Monday, a day before numerous country's Supreme Court judges are being forced into early retirement due to a controversial new law. Party leaders claim they are reforming an inefficient and corrupt court system in the grip of an unaccountable caste of judges and insist their changes are in line with European standards.

The passage of the Supreme Court law on Tuesday is only the most recent in a string of attacks on the Polish judiciary since PiS took power in 2015.

In announcing its procedure, the European Commission, which polices EU law, said the measures "undermine the principle of judiciary independence".

The European Commission decided yesterday to launch an infringement procedure against Poland regarding its law on the Supreme Court.

"At the same time the European Commission stands ready to continue the ongoing rule of law dialogue with Poland which remains the Commission's preferred channel for resolving the systemic threat to rule of law in Poland".

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Poland now has a month to respond, but if it does not reverse course, a future step would involve the Commission suing Poland at the EU Court of Justice.

Poland's deputy foreign minister Konrad Szymanski said his government would respond "in detail" within 30 days and warned the ECJ would face a "very hard task".

Government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said Monday that the government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is fulfilling its promise to voters to clean up a broken justice system - changes she said previous governments should have made but didn't.

Under the new law, all Supreme Court judges over 65 will have to retire when the legislation takes effect unless they have applied for permission to Polish President Andrzej Duda. They have vowed to show up to work as usual.

The European Union earlier threatened to deprive Poland of their right to vote in the EU Council, while Hungary took Poland's side in the dispute.

The rule-of-law procedure opened on Monday was part of a broader investigation into the Polish government that could potentially lead to sanctions from Brussels.

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