So much for sovereignty. Poland’s government is due to implement a controversial law which would de facto force some of its supreme court justices into early retirement, opening up the way to stack the judiciary deck in the government’s favour. The EU, on the other hand, sees the move as an assault on the rule of law, and is therefore opening up a lawsuit against Poland, and threatening sanctions, over the matter. Sanctions, however, would require unanimity, which is unlikely to appear, meaning that they aren’t likely to see the light of day. The justices are also fighting the ‘reform’ measures by declaring the law to be unconstitutional and thus refusing to step down.
Deutsche Welle reports:
The European Commission launched legal proceedings against the Polish government on Monday, a day before many of the country’s Supreme Court judges are being forced into early retirement due to a controversial new law.
Brussels and Warsaw have been at odds over the judicial reforms for two and a half years, with the European Union arguing that Poland is undermining “the principle of judiciary independence.”
“Given the lack of progress and the imminent implementation of the new retirement regime for supreme court judges, the Commission decided today to launch the infringement procedure as a matter of urgency,” spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
Poland has argued that the law is a necessary reform to outdated regulations that go back to communist rule, but the EU has consistently maintained that it is an attack on democratic checks and balances.
‘The constitution guarantees me this position’
The rule-of-law procedure opened on Monday was part of a broader investigation into the Polish government that could potentially lead to sanctions from Brussels. However, any such sanctions would have to be unanimously agreed upon and Poland’s close ally Hungary is likely to veto such a measure.
Poland has a month to respond to the announcement. Dozens of the judges targeted by the new law have also announced their intention to defy the new laws and stay in their jobs after Tuesday, claiming the reforms are unconstitutional.
Chief Supreme Court Judge Malgorzata Gersdorf, 66, told DW that she had no intention to abandon her post. “The constitution guarantees me this venerable post for six years, and I see no reason why I should file a petition with the executive branch about it.”
Of the 76 judges currently serving Warsaw’s highest court, 27 are over 65. Their departure would allow PiS to stack the court with government-friendly judges.
The EU is attempting to further stick its nose into the internal workings of the Polish government, and applying some pressure to get it to change its policy. In this manner, the EU is attempting to dictate to the Poles how their democracy should function, and what will and won’t be tolerated in their own government.
When it comes to Germany and some of the other big boys in the bloc, they get to get away with murder, as it were, in that they are seeking out and implementing measures that aim to prevent asylum seekers their rights to seek asylum from political persecution and terrorism. But that’s not of much concern for the EU, since it implies a greater existential liability to the bloc’s unity.