The European Union initiates a legal action against Poland for the independence of the judiciary

The European Comission launched on Wednesday an infringement procedure against Poland after the ruling issued in October by the constitutional Court of that country that questions the primacy of European law.

“We consider that this jurisprudence violates the general principles of autonomy, primacy, efficacy and uniform application of Union law, and the binding rulings of the Justice Court (of the European Union) “, declared the European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni.

“We also consider that the Constitutional Court no longer responds to the demands of an independent and impartial court established by law, as required by the EU treaty,” he added.

The European executive, which monitors the application of the bloc’s treaties, sent an email to the Polish government, which has two months to respond.

The infringement procedure may culminate in the hands of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) and lead to financial penalties.

“Bureaucratic centralism”

The Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, immediately criticized the decision. The European Commission initiative shows that “the trend towards bureaucratic centralism (…) in Brussels is unfortunately advancing, but it must be stopped,” he said.

The head of government also stressed that the Polish Constitutional Court responded “to all demands for independence.”

“It is a Constitutional Court that deals with the Constitution, so that it is truly the supreme law of the republic of Poland“.

“If the European Commission misunderstands the principle of the powers conferred by article 5 of the Treaty of the European UnionIt is obviously a problem, “he added.

Poland and the European Union are at odds over a series of controversial judicial reforms in Warsaw. For Brussels, these measures collide with democratic freedoms but for the Polish government they are necessary to end the corruption of judges.

Poland has already been sanctioned recently by the European justice: on October 27 at one million euros per day for stopping the operation of the controversial disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court and in September, at 500,000 euros per day for closing a lignite mine. But Warsaw refuses to pay both fines.

The EU has been in a full-fledged fight for several years with Poland over the judicial reforms implemented by the government of the conservative and nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, in power since 2015.

These reforms, accused of undermining the independence of judges, have earned Poland several sentences from the CJEU. Warsaw affirms that it has launched them especially to fight against corruption within the judiciary.

The conflict was aggravated by a decision on July 14 by the Polish Constitutional Court, under the influence of the ruling party, with which it declared the decisions of the CJEU regarding judicial reforms implemented in the country not in conformity with the Constitution.

Tensions escalated further in October when the constitutional body, at the request of the prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, challenged the supremacy of European law by declaring certain articles of the EU treaties “incompatible” with the country’s Constitution.

Controversial justice reforms in Poland are also at the center of the Commission’s blocking of the country’s recovery plan. Brussels requires Poland to cease the activities of the disciplinary chamber of judges, in accordance with a decision of the CJEU that accuses it of a lack of independence from the political power.

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