The dispute between the Polish Supreme Court the First President Małgorzata Gersdorf and the President for the forced resignation gersdorf the new EU and the contested decision remained unresolved on Tuesday evening.
Under new laws regulating the work of Poland’s Supreme Court, Tuesday marks the retirement of Supreme Court judges aged 65 and over. Under the December-passed law, current judges have the possibility to apply for prolongation of their mandate by the president, which can be granted for a period of three years and renewed once. The EC has launched infringement procedures against Poland over the matter.
According to the EC, the changes undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges, and thereby Poland fails to fulfil its obligations under Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union read in connection with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Presidential aide Paweł Mucha said on Tuesday that Gersdorf’s retirement was in line with binding laws. Mucha, speaking to reporters after a meeting in the matter attended among others by Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and Gersdorf herself, said that during the meeting Duda clearly confirmed that the new Supreme Court legislation was binding law, also with regard to judicial retirements.
Mucha also announced that Józef Iwulski, currently the longest-serving Supreme Court judge, will take over Gersdorf’s duties as acting 1st President of the court from Wednesday.
In the afternoon in the Sejm (lower house) Gersdorf, who presented a closing report on her court for the previous year, said her official status remained the same as before the earlier talks with the president, and stressed that she was constitutionally bound to serve a six-year term.
“The constitution obliges me to a six-year term and I must proceed according to the constitution,” Gersdorf said in the Sejm.
European Council President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, said in Strasbourg that Poland “deserved an independent judiciary,” and warned that whoever wished to undermine judicial independence in Poland did harm to the country.