Poland’s Supreme Court warns EU membership at risk
Poland’s Law and Justice party (PiS) government was jeopardising EU membership with its changes to the judiciary, the top court warned.
In November the European Court of Justice asked the Polish Supreme Court to rule whether the new judicial council and a disciplinary chamber were free from political influence.
The Polish judges concluded that their independence was not guaranteed.
The Supreme Court said PiS was undermining the principle of the primacy of European over national law.
“Contradictions between Polish and EU law…. will in all likelihood lead to an intervention by EU institutions regarding an infringement of EU treaties, and in the longer run [will lead to] the need to leave the European Union,” the Warsaw-based court said.
The legislation was “evidently” designed to allow President Andrzej Duda to select a new head of the court before the next presidential election, which is expected in May.
Activists have called for protests outside courts in numerous towns and cities.
The draft legislation would enable judges to be removed from their posts for taking part in “activities of a political nature [or to] harm the functioning of the justice system”.
The Supreme Court said the populist government appeared keen to stop judges from questioning the government’s reforms and forcing justices to comply with measures that might be “incompatible with higher legal norms”.
Punishment from Brussels was “very likely” to lead to punishment by the EU, the judges said.
Danuta Przywara, who chairs the Polish wing of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, said the legislation would mean “the end of the separation of powers and a return to the unitary power which we knew during Poland’s communist-era”.
Poland benefits from EU funding in numerous areas.
The city of Bialystok receives €4 million from the European Regional Development Fund for its new interactive museum within the science communication centre in Bialystok.
The regional development fund has supported a new fleet of electric buses in Jaworzno in southern Poland with €9.5 million.
The railway company PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe is the third-largest recipient of funds in Poland with more than €500 million in total.
The Lower Silesian Oncology Centre in Wroclaw, the first clinic for breast diseases in the region, is being built and equipped with the support of €7 million.
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