WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that Poland’s new regulations for appointing judges to the Supreme Court could violate EU law.
The ruling obliges Poland’s right-wing government to discontinue these regulations and observe the principles of judicial independence and the right to judicial protection.
In a decision that could have a powerful effect on future court verdicts regarding judicial appointments, the ruling also allows Poland’s courts to refrain from applying the regulations introduced by the government in 2018 and 2019.
The legislation in Poland strengthened political influence over a top judicial body, the National Council of the Judiciary, and the body’s procedure of appointments to the Supreme Court. It also curbed the right to appeal the council’s decisions.
The regulations “which have the effect of removing effective judicial review of that council’s decisions … (proposing) candidates for the office of judge at the Supreme Court — are liable to infringe EU law,” the European Court of Justice said in its ruling.
The ruling was in response to a query by Poland’s top administrative court to the European court regarding a complaint by some judges. The judges said the new regulations stripped them of the right to appeal a decision rejecting them as candidates for the Supreme Court.
Based on Tuesday’s ruling, Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court can now review the appeals by the five judges.
Some lawmakers praised the court’s decision.
The ruling on Polish government’s “political interference in the judiciary is concrete evidence that the government is blatantly flouting the rule of law, despite multiple warnings. It is also destroying Europe’s trust in the legal system there,” said Jeroen Lenaers, a European Parliament member.
This story has been corrected to say Poland’s top administrative court turned to the ECJ, not the judges themselves.