Rule of Law: Commission launches infringement procedure to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court
Today, the European Commission has launched an infringement procedure by sending a Letter of Formal Notice to Poland regarding the Polish law on the Supreme Court.
On 3 July, 27 out of 72 Supreme Court judges face the risk of being forced to retire – more than one in every three judges – due to the fact that the new Polish law on the Supreme Court lowers the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65. According to the law, current judges are given the possibility to declare their will to have their mandate prolonged by the President of the Republic. There are no criteria established for the President’s decision and there is no possibility for a judicial review of this decision. The Commission is of the opinion that these measures undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges, and thereby Poland fails to fulfil its obligations under Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union read in connection with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. While the Polish Supreme Court law has already been discussed in the Rule of Law dialogue between the Commission and the Polish authorities, it has not been satisfactorily addressed through this process. Given the lack of progress and the imminent implementation of the new retirement regime for Supreme Court judges, the Commission decided to launch this infringement procedure as a matter of urgency. The Polish government will have one month to reply to the Commission. At the same time, the Commission stands ready to continue the ongoing rule of law dialogue with Poland, which remains the Commission’s preferred channel for resolving the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland. A full press release is available here.