EU takes Poland to court over judicial independence | Pakistan Today

EU takes Poland to court over judicial independence

BRUSSELS: The European Union referred Poland to its top court on Monday, in the latest legal confrontation between Brussels and populist member governments.
EU leaders say they had to move quickly to halt an alleged legal threat to the independence of Poland’s judiciary from its own rightwing government.
But the decision will also stir mounting tensions between the central EU leadership and nationalist politicians from eastern and southern member states.
Brussels took action amid fears Poland and other EU members with populist and authoritarian tendencies are undermining the union’s founding values.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, targeted Poland’s decision to lower the age at which Supreme Court judges must retire from 70 to 65.
This would hasten the departure of judges appointed under previous governments, allowing the appointment of figures seen as loyal by Warsaw’s current leadership.
The Commission said it has “decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU due to the violations of the principle of judicial independence created by the new Polish law on the Supreme Court.”
The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice could impose fines if it finds Poland in breach of EU law.
Warning that Warsaw is accelerating retirements, the Commission said it has asked the Court of Justice to obtain a final judgement “as soon as possible.”
The Commission said Warsaw’s implementation of the laws creates “a risk of serious and irreparable damage to judicial independence in Poland.”
Consequently, it said, the move also undermines “the EU legal order”, including member states’ mutual recognition of court decisions.
Already in July, the ECJ authorised EU countries to refuse arrest warrants from Poland if they doubt defendants will get a fair trial there.
The Commission also asked the court, pending a final ruling, to take “interim measures” such as restoring the Supreme Court to its situation before April 3.
The Commission has previously urged the Polish authorities to address its concerns about the April 3 law or risk being taken to the top EU court.
“The response of the Polish authorities on both occasions has failed to alleviate the Commission’s legal concerns,” it said.
This was the second such action. In December last year, the Commission took Poland to court for alleged violations in its common law courts.
The commission said the Polish law “undermines the principle of judicial independence, including the removability of judges.”

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