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MEDEL statement on Polish Judiciary

MEDEL

(EN) MEDEL has issued a statement regarding the recent developments in the Polish Judiciary and the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

(FR) MEDEL a publié une déclaration concernant les récents développements dans le système judiciaire polonais et les décisions de la Cour de Justice de l'Union Européenne.

MEDEL welcomes the two critical European Court of Justice’s decisions delivered last week in the so-called “Polish cases”– order issued on 14th of July 2021 in case C-204/21 and final verdict of one of the infringement procedures – case C-771/19, rendered on 15th of July 2021. Both of these decisions relate to the principle of independence of the judiciary. Under the ECJ’s ruling of 14 July, supplemental to an earlier ECJ ruling of 8 April 2020 (“muzzle law”), the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court has been found invalid in all cases related to judges – disciplinary and immunity.

In the verdict delivered on 15th of July, ECJ explicitly states that the Disciplinary Chamber does not fulfil the criteria of an independent and impartial court. ECJ also emphasised that Polish disciplinary system of judges fails to guarantee fundamental rights of defendants. Both these decisions confirm the essential European Union’s cornerstone legal principle of independence of justice.

Unfortunately - but as expected - Polish authorities (including Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, politically dependent Constitutional Court and The First President of the Supreme Court) denied ECJ’s authority and rejected the rulings, engineering a false conflict between EU law and Polish Constitution. The Polish Constitutional Court - a shell of its former self, adjudicating in invalid panel (according to the ECHR’s verdict Xero Flor vs Poland, application no. 4907/18) stated that the ECJ’s interim orders on the structure of courts in Poland are violating Polish Constitution. Moreover, there is a pending case in the Constitutional Court filed by the PM, claiming that ECJ rulings defining standards on impartiality and independence of judges cannot be applied in Polish legal order. Similarly, this motion is supported by the President, the Sejm and the Prosecutor General. The “verdict” (the adjudicating panel is similarly invalid, according to Xero Floor verdict) is to be delivered on 3rd of August.

The (invalid) First President of The Supreme Court, Malgorzata Manowska, declared in return that upon Polish Constitutional Court decision, she reinstates and fully activates the Disciplinary Chamber, standing openly against ECJ rulings and European Union’s legal order.

The situation is grave and its potential results are dire for the European common area of freedom, security and justice.

As MEDEL has continuously been stating, Rule of Law and the independence of the judiciary are basic common values of EU Law that are the cornerstone of the whole European system. There can be no EU without Rule of Law and a free and independent judiciary.

In this defining moment, MEDEL expresses its full support to the brave Polish magistrates and civil society, who stand up in the defence of the European values of Rule of Law and calls on the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament to trigger the immediate actions envisaged in the Treaties.

19 July 2021

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