Infringement procedures by the European Commission against Poland over judicial independence

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Publication Date 2020-
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Reports and information relating to a set of infringement procedures launched by the European Commission against Poland over a series of amendments to legislative acts on the judiciary.

Further information:

The law amending the acts governing the functioning of the justice system in Poland was adopted in December 2019 and entered into force in February 2020. The European Commission took the view that this law undermines the independence of Polish judges and is also incompatible with the primacy of EU law.

A Letter of Formal Notice was therefore issued against Poland regarding the law on the judiciary on 29 April 2020. In its reply, the Polish Government contested the reasoning and requested the discontinuation of the procedure. The Commission analyses the reply and argued it did not address the concerns expressed in the original Letter. On 30 October, the Commission moved to the second phase of the infringement procedure by sending a Reasoned Opinion. The national authorities were given two months to take the necessary measures to comply with the Opinion in order to avoid the case being referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

An additional Letter of Formal Notice was issued against Poland on 3 December 2020 regarding the functioning of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. The Commission argues that the Member State violates EU Law by allowing the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court to decide on further matters which directly affect judges. It is considered that independence and impartiality of that Chamber cannot be guaranteed. By giving the Disciplinary Chamber powers that directly affect the status of judges and the exercise of their judicial activities, the Polish legislation is seen to jeopardise the ability of the respective courts to provide an effective remedy. On 27 January 2021, the Commission decided to issue a Reasoned Opinion as it considered the reply sent by national authorities not to address the concerns.

The second infringement procedure complements the first one without replacing it.

Related Links
EurActiv, 29/04/2020: EU launches judicial freedom case against Poland
Reuters, 29/04/2020: EU opens new legal case against Poland over muzzling judges
Deutsche Welle, 29/04/2020: EU opens legal case against Poland over judicial reform
TVN24, 29/04/2020: EU executive launches infringement procedure against Poland over muzzling judges
Politico, 29/04/2020: Commission launches 4th infringement procedure over Poland’s rule of law
Radio Poland, 30/04/2020: EU opens fresh case against Poland over judges

European Commission: Press Release, 29/04/2020: Rule of Law: European Commission launches infringement procedure to safeguard the independence of judges in Poland
European Commission: Press Release, 27/01/2021: Rule of Law: Commission adopts next step in the infringement procedure to protect judicial independence of Polish judges

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