Poland’s disciplinary mechanism for judges violates EU law

The EU’s Advocate General also claimed that the system may seriously contribute to further undermine judicial independence in Poland, already weakened by other reforms introduced by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party since it came to power in 2015. [Shutterstock/J_UK]

The disciplinary system of judges recently adopted in Poland is “contrary to EU law” because it allows for disciplinary proceedings to be taken against judges based on the content of their decisions, the EU Court’s Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev said in an opinion published Thursday.

“The mere possibility that disciplinary proceedings or measures could be taken against judges on account of the content of their judicial decisions undoubtedly creates a ‘chilling effect’ not only on those judges, but also on other judges in the future, which is incompatible with judicial independence,” said Tanchev in a non-binding opinion.

The EU’s Advocate General also claimed that the system may seriously contribute to further undermine judicial independence in Poland, already weakened by other reforms introduced by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party since it came to power in 2015.

The new mechanism created in 2017, which includes various sanctions that may be imposed on judges – not only stripping judges from their immunity but even suspending them from their duties and cutting their salary.

In December, during a court hearing in Luxembourg, Deputy Justice Minister Anna Dalkowska said that the new disciplinary system is aimed “at increasing the impartiality and independence of judges” and that disciplining judges is an internal matter and not one for the EU. Tanchev responded, saying that disciplinary systems for judges are also covered by EU law. (Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)

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