The European Union said yesterday it has decided to take Poland to the bloc's top court over the overhaul of the country's judicial system and also ask the European Court of Justice to suspend a recent law on Supreme Court judges.
The EU's executive Commission has been increasingly critical of Poland's judicial reform under a right-wing government and has alleged some laws are a violation of Western democratic standards. The body said in a statement that "the Polish law on the Supreme Court is incompatible with EU law as it undermines the principle of judicial independence."
Poland's law on the retirement of judges at the Supreme Court put 27 of 72 judges at risk of being forced to retire, the Commission said, with no clear criteria on who can stay.
The Commission gave Warsaw a first warning in July, when the law took effect, and followed it up with another step in August before taking yesterday's decision. Poland's government says it is removing judges who were linked to the former communist authorities and that the changes should benefit the justice system and ordinary Poles. It insists the structure is in line with other EU member states, but the Commission is not sharing that view.
Senate Speaker Stanislaw Karczewski said the government had expected the Commission's move but will keep repeating its "strong, legal and essential" arguments. "We have always respected [the EU court's] verdicts but I am sure the complaint will be rejected," Karczewski said.
The Commission asked the European Court of Justice to effectively suspend the retirement regime and make sure that those affected can continue in their jobs. It also wants new appointments to be halted while the court assesses the case.
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