EU Executive to Sue Poland Over Judicial Disciplinary Regime

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s executive arm is poised to sue Poland over a disciplinary regime for judges, testing one of the conservative ruling party’s main policies days before a general election it’s poised to win.

The European Commission is set to say the Polish disciplinary procedures, a part of a broader judicial overhaul, compromise judiciary independence and exposes judges to political control. It will request a fast-track proceeding in the bloc’s top court, according to an EU official with knowledge of the matter.

The commission plans to announce the lawsuit on Thursday, according to the official, who asked not to be identified because of policy. The EU executive doesn’t comment on its decisions before they have been approved and made public.

The decision brings the issue of erosion of democratic standards back to the center of the campaign ahead of Poland’s parliamentary election on Sunday and may upset the government’s plans to reset the relationship with Brussels.

Opinion polls show the ruling Law & Justice party is expected to easily win the vote. It campaigning on a platform that combines generous cash handouts to families and other groups along with staunch opposition to the EU’s liberal, multicultural values, including warnings that gay people and immigrants are trying to undermine the country’s Christian roots.

During its four years in power, Law & Justice dramatically reconfigured the country’s relationship with the bloc, casting Brussels among self-serving elites that are looking down on ordinary Poles.

As part of that narrative, it fired scores of judges appointed under previous administrations and forced Supreme Court justices to retire early.

Law & Justice created a panel with judiciary oversight and started disciplinary proceedings against dozens of judges who criticized the increased influence of politicians over courts. The party intends to continue the judicial overhaul and restrict immunity for judges and prosecutors if it wins the election.

Poland has consistently argued that the EU has no jurisdiction to police member states over how they set up their court systems and has signaled it’s ready to go to battle against the bloc.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.