Poland’s justice minister has said it is not possible to comply with a ruling by the top court at the European Union that the country’s new system for disciplining judges breaks EU law and should be suspended.
Poland is embroiled in a long-running row with the EU over judicial reforms which critics say undermine the independence of the judiciary. The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party says the changes are needed to make courts work more effectively and remove a residue of communist influence.
Earlier this week the European Commission gave Poland until 16 August to observe the ruling announced earlier in July or face fines for non-compliance.
The minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, said the EU court’s ruling that Poland should suspend its Supreme Court disciplinary chamber was “illegal in the light of Polish and European law” claiming the ruling was against Poland’s constitution. He said:
“In Poland, there is a constitution and the principle of legalism. Based on these principles, there is no possibility of implementation of the rulings by the court in Luxembourg.”
Ziobro is the architect of a sweeping overhaul of the judiciary that set up the disciplinary chamber, a move already condemned by the Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg and the bloc’s Brussels-based executive, which acts as the guardian of laws across the 27 member states. PiS has continually challenged the primacy of European laws over Polish ones, which has strengthened its possible move away from the EU.
The row may lead to the ECJ imposing hefty fines on Warsaw or the other EU countries suspending financing. Poland is due to get some $200billion from the bloc by 2028.