The President of the Supreme Court of Poland suspended the work of the controversial disciplinary chamber in response to the European Commission’s request to improve the body’s independence.
The disciplinary chamber of the Polish court, created in 2017, can sanction judges, but its independence and impartiality are contested. The Disciplinary Chamber is composed of judges chosen by the National Council of the Judiciary, itself elected by Parliament. Parliament is dominated by the ruling PiS party.
No new cases can be accepted at the moment, decided Poland’s top judge Malgorzata Manowska. For cases already pending, judges are requested to suspend treatment. The settlement applies until the legal dispute between Warsaw and Brussels is resolved, with a deadline of November 15.
New judges have been appointed to various courts and lower courts that support the ruling PiS party. Critical judge Igor Tuleya is is no longer immune to criminal prosecution, decided the disciplinary chamber.
Collision with Brussels
The European Court of Justice ruled last year that the work of the disciplinary chamber should be suspended, but so far it has been no answer give to. Brussels therefore has a ultimatum given: If no improvement is made in the Disciplinary Chamber by August 16, the European Commission will try to impose a fine on the country through European courts.
It is not clear whether the temporary suspension of the activities of the disciplinary chamber will provide Poland with a sufficient response in Brussels. Polish lawyer Marcin Matczak tweets that the regulation only postpones, but does not provide fundamental solutions.
Incidentally, Chief Justice Manowska, who was appointed by the Polish president of PiS Duda, says he is “deeply convinced” that the disciplinary chamber is sufficiently independent.
In addition to the issue of the disciplinary chamber, there is a another bigger conflict between Poland and the EU. The Polish Constitutional Court will decide at the end of this month whether Polish law will prevail over European law in Poland. This would undermine the fundamental legal principles of the EU. It has been agreed in the European treaties that the judgments of the European Court of Luxembourg are binding. They thus prevail over the judgments of national courts.
In eleven minutes, NOSop3 explains what the conflict between Poland and the EU consists of:
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