Under pressure from Brussels, Poland educates its justice reform

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) put Warsaw on formal notice on July. His ultimatum expired on 16 August. The new Polish proposals are expected in September.

Warsaw and Brussels have been at loggerheads for years on the reforms adopted by the conservative nationalist government of the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS). But on Saturday, it is the European Union that seems to have won a new round.

The president of the main party of the conservative coalition in power in Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has effect announced the next liquidation of the disciplinary component of a controversial reform of the judicial system, a decision demanded by the EU.

“We will delete the Disciplinary Chamber (of the Supreme Court) in the form in which it currently functions and the subject of the dispute (with the EU) will thus disappear ”, declared the president of the Law and Justice (PiS) in an interview with the PAP agency. According to him, the first proposals for change should be presented in September.

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has ordered the 14 July to Poland to immediately end the activities of the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court, an institution set up as part of a reform of the judicial system.

The disciplinary chamber is responsible for supervising judges, with the power to lift their immunity to expose them to criminal prosecution or reduce their salaries.

The CJEU has as a second step judged, on 15 July, that this chamber did not offer “not all the guarantees of impartiality and independence ” and was “ not immune to direct or indirect influences from the legislative and executive powers ”

But the Polish Constitutional Court challenged Brussels by ruling that the interim measures decreed by the CJEU were not “not in conformity” with the Polish Constitution.

Subsequently, the European Commission gave Warsaw until 16 August to commit to respecting the decisions of the CJEU, threatening to request financial sanctions. This week, the President of the Supreme Court announced the temporary freezing of the activities of the chamber.

“I do not recognize such judgments (of the CJEU), because they definitely go beyond the treaties and extend the jurisdiction of the EU courts , underlined Mr Kaczynski. However, there is no doubt that the subject of the dispute exists ”. “This does not mean that this House will not work in any form. Nobody expects that from us, but it will be a completely different body ”, stressed Mr. Kaczynski.

The decision to liquidate the disciplinary chamber may however encounter the refusal of Zbigniew Ziobro, Minister of Justice and president of a small coalition party which is also the main author of the justice reform. Mr. Ziobro declared on Friday to refuse “categorically to give in to illegal blackmail” of the EU.

Its refusal could provoke new tensions within the ruling coalition, already weakened by a conflict with the third coalition on the proposals for economic and fiscal reforms to come.

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