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European Court of Justice issues injunction to halt Polish Supreme Court changes

warsaw supreme court

The European Court of Justice (CJEU), the highest court of the European Union, issues an injunction on October 19 against the implementation of Poland’s new Supreme Court law, freezing any changes to the existing system. The injunction comes after a complaint by the European Commission (EC) which questions the legality of the law.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, asked by reporters on the side-lines of an EU-Asia summit if Poland had received the ECJ’s decision on the interim measures to freeze the implementation of Warsaw’s Supreme Court overhaul, said: “In the last few hours, a notification arrived from the European Court of Justice. We will state our position after thorough analysis.”

According to Polish Daily Rzeczpospolita, the CJEU has decided to suspend certain provisions of the new law, including the forced retirement of judges and the selection process for their replacements.

The EC’s complaint is based on the argument that Polish judges adjudicate inter alia on the basis and in the field of EU law, making them EU judges. And it follows that the EU institutions have the right, and even the obligation to safeguard the independence of the Polish judiciary.

However, the Polish authorities beg to differ, and are of the opinion that the judiciary is the sole competence of the member states, and that no EU powers have been delegated to the EU in this regard, and therefore the CJEU should not, in principle, decide on the EC’s claim, considering it to exceed EU competences.

Poland’s Supreme Court judges have welcomed the injunction.

“This decision demonstartes that in the matter of what we have been talking about for many months and what we have been warning about, we are right,” said Judge Michał Laskowski, a spokesman for Poland’s Supreme Court.

“We are not alone in what we say and everything that has happened with the Supreme Court, with the courts, with the Constitutional Tribunal all goes against the standards that are adopted elsewhere in Europe. This has now been confirmed by the most renowned judges of Europe,” concluded Mr Laskowski.