EU Values and Transparency Commissioner to discuss rules of law in Poland

EU Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova will meet with Justice Minister and Supreme Court President Malogorzata Gersdor in Warsaw

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Photo: Gabriel Pietka/MSZ

EU Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova will meet with Justice Minister and Supreme Court President Malogorzata Gersdor in Warsaw today to discuss rule of law compliance, in light of a government-judiciary conflict on judicial reforms.

The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) in 2018 legislated that the government may appoint judges to the National Council of Justice (NCJ). Some argue that this intervention will adversely affect the judiciary’s independence. On Thursday, the lower house passed a bill that Supreme Court judges who do not “comply” with the government may be prosecuted. In contradiction, the Supreme Court ruled the same day that the NCJ appointments were not sufficiently independent and are therefore illegal.

The government’s attempts go against the EU’s legal requirements of judicial independence for all member states. While the EU may place interim holds on disciplinary actions against judges, any long-term sanctions appear unlikely given the requirement of unanimous support from other member states. With this in mind, the PiS also appears unlikely to accept EU legal primacy over its domestic affairs. Any possible resolution is likely to centre around negotiations among stakeholders to uphold the rule of law.

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