The assemblies of judges of all appellate courts in Poland have no intention of issuing opinions on candidates for judicial posts. They are refusing to cooperate with the new KRS, because the EU Court of Justice will soon rule whether it was established in accordance with EU law. “We have heard the negative opinion of the Advocate General. Common sense dictates that we avoid deepening the legal chaos,” comments Ewa Łętowska
“The Law on the Supreme Court was contrary to EU law”, ruled the Court of Justice on 24 June. According to the CJEU, the rules shorting judges’ term of office infringed the principle of their irremovability and judicial independence. The Court is in doubt about the real objectives of the PiS-led judiciary reform. More judgments will be issued shortly.
The newly constituted National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) does not want the Court of Justice to review its status, nor the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. “Every criterion for independence is impeccably satisfied”, said Jarosław Dudzicz, member of the new KRS, on 14 May in Luxembourg. The Law and Justice government is again employing the rhetorical arguments of “German courts” and “thieves in togas”. A final verdict on the legality of the KRS will come in July at the earliest.
The Disciplinary Chamber is populated entirely by justices selected since Law and Justice came to power. In a resolution of 10 April, they declared that the process by which they were appointed was entirely proper. The new members of the Supreme Court are rushing to “legalise themselves” in order to head off the “older” judges, who believe their new counterparts should not be allowed to rule. They were appointed in a faulty process and with the participation of a politicised KRS.
Frans Timmermans spoke with journalists on Tuesday, 19 February 2019, just prior to another debate in the General Affairs Council of the EU over breach of rule of law within the Article 7 TEU procedure initiated against Poland. This was the first meeting of the Council since the Polish government presented its report on 11 December 2018
The new Supreme Court Act came into effect on 1 January – the Supreme Court judges previously forced to retire are coming back to work. PiS ultimately gave up despite stalling for time until the last moment. Yet the fight for the rule of law continues, and Brussels has no plans to quit. In 2019, the Court of Justice will rule on the politicisation of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS)