Poland will respond to the EC’s referral of Poland’s Supreme Court laws to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) when it receives the Commission’s charges, PM Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday on TV.
Last week the EC decided to charge Poland to the CJEU over the Supreme Court laws. Polish judiciary reforms have been a point of contention between the Commission and Poland since 2017.
Asked if Poland will withdraw Supreme Court legislation that has been questioned by the EC, Morawiecki said the Polish side could not take a stand in the matter as it had not yet received the EC’s charges.
“As soon as we have acquainted ourselves (with the charges – PAP), we will be able to say what they see as unfitting,” the PM said.
Morawiecki also commented on the Supreme Court’s possible withdrawal of an earlier motion for a CJEU preliminary ruling in the matter, adding that in his lawyers’ opinion the case will be dropped.
On Sunday, Polish Supreme Court spokesperson Michał Laskowski told PAP that the court was likely to retract the preliminary hearing motion after Poland’s social insurance institution ZUS, whose complaint to the Supreme Court originally led the court to move for a CJEU preliminary ruling and suspend three of its own provisions pertaining to the contentious issue (lowering the judicial retirement age to 65) until the EU court rules in the matter.
In December 2017, the EC launched the EU Treaty’s Article 7 rule-of-law procedure against Poland over justice reforms which, in its opinion, infringed on the independence of courts, and included changes in retirement rules for Supreme Court judges. The procedure could potentially lead to sanctions for Poland, including the loss of its EU voting rights, but all EU countries would have to agree.
On August 14, the EC launched a further step in the procedure by reiterating its view on the illegality of the Supreme Court reforms in a so-called reasoned opinion sent to Poland. At the time, the Commission gave Poland one month to reply to the opinion.
On August 2, Poland’s Supreme Court forwarded five queries to the CJEU concerning “the principle of court independence and impartiality as the principles of EU law and the EU’s prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of age.”
New Supreme Court regulations cut the retirement age for SN judges to 65 from 70. The court also suspended the questioned regulations until the CJEU’s response in the matter.
The CJEU wants to examine the queries on February 12, 2019, PAP was told by a diplomatic source.