Poland Suffers New EU Court Setback Over Justice Minister Powers
(Bloomberg) -- Polish rules that give the nation’s justice minister powers to decide on promoting or demoting judges on a confidential basis violate European Union rules, the bloc’s top court said.
EU law “precludes the regime in force in Poland” under which the minister recommends the appointment of judges to higher criminal courts, “secondments which that minister -- who is also the public prosecutor general -- may terminate at any time without stating reasons,” the EU Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday.
The case is the latest in an extended saga over slipping democratic standards in the EU’s biggest eastern European nation that has so far convinced the bloc to delay 36 billion euros ($41 billion) of stimulus funds bound for Poland. Last month, its top court ruled that some EU laws are incompatible with the country’s constitution, undermining a cornerstone of EU membership.
The European Commission could within days send letters to Poland and other renegade Hungary, asking for their response to concerns that funds provided by the bloc could have been subjected to corruption or fraud, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders confirmed again on Monday during a visit to Luxembourg.
Poland’s sweeping judicial reforms, which have included lowering the retirement age of judges, and the controversial disciplinary chamber for judges, have led to a string of cases at the bloc’s top court.
Last month, the EU Court of Justice hit Poland with a record 1 million-euro daily fine in the fast-escalating feud over the rule of law that prompted accusations of “blackmail” from Warsaw.
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