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Disciplinary regime for judges in Poland not compatible with EU law: CJEU

“The system of the disciplinary regime for judges in Poland is not compatible with EU law,” the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on Thursday. In the announced judgment, the CJEU took into account all the allegations raised by the European Commission and stated that Poland had breached its obligations under EU law.

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“In light of the global context of major reforms that have recently affected the Polish judiciary, in which context the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court was created, and owing to a combination of factors that framed the process whereby the new chamber was established, that chamber does not provide all the guarantees of impartiality and independence and, in particular, is not protected from the direct or indirect influence of the Polish legislative and executive authorities,” the CJEU stated in a press release.

The CJEU pointed out several reasons that explained their judgement, like the possibility of the disciplinary regime to allow “the content of judicial decisions adopted by judges of the ordinary courts to be classified as a disciplinary offence”.

The CJEU also stated that “Poland has failed to guarantee that the disciplinary cases brought against judges of the ordinary courts will be examined within a reasonable time and has failed to guarantee respect for the rights of defence of accused judges, thereby undermining their independence”.

Lastly, the European court expressed that “national judges are exposed to disciplinary proceedings a result of the fact that they have decided to make a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice, which undermines their right or, as the case may be, their obligation to put questions to the Court, as well as the system of judicial cooperation between the national courts and the Court of Justice established by the Treaties in order to secure uniformity in the interpretation of the EU law and ensure the full effect of that law.

#ECJ : The disciplinary regime for judges in #Poland is not compatible with #EUlaw #RuleOfLaw
?https://t.co/ATb3CgbPxg pic.twitter.com/o2jDg9E93W

— EU Court of Justice (@EUCourtPress) July 15, 2021

Given these reasons, the CJEU ruled that “where the Court finds that there has been a failure to fulfil obligations, the Member State concerned must take the measures necessary to rectify the situation”.

Polish PM comments

“I cannot agree that Poland will be treated differently, worse, that it will be discriminated against in relation to very similar legal situations, identical procedures that occur in Germany or Spain,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a press conference on Thursday, commenting on the CJEU’s judgment.

“We have based the reforms of the judiciary on very similar and sometimes identical solutions, to those of other EU countries. Some institutions – the EC – accuse Poland of politicising the election of judges. How then to approach the German procedures, in which politicians elect judges,” the Prime Minister added.

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