Poland suspended from ENCJ

Poland has been suspended from the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) as a result of the Polish government refusing to take any action following the European Commission’s recommendation that the country amend the radical changes being made to the judiciary.

The ENCJ believes that the Polish Judicial Council (KRS) is not free from political control.

“The extreme circumstances of this particular case have led to the decision just taken…member states are free to organise their judicial systems in a way that they see fit, but there are some minimum standards that have to be complied with,” said the ENCJ in a statement.

Under recent changes made in Poland, the government – including the president – would be responsible for appointing judges, rather than judicial council members.

“It is a condition of ENCJ membership, that institutions are independent of the executive and legislature and ensure the final responsibility for the support of the judiciary in the independent delivery of justice. The ENCJ became concerned that as a result of the recent reforms in Poland the KRS no longer fulfilled this requirement.”

Following the suspension, Poland’s Minister for European Affairs Konrad Szymanski went before the EU’s General Affairs Council. Prior to the meeting Mr Szymanski said: “I can only hope that, like in June, the hearing will be a factual exchange of views on what is and what isn’t in line with European law, or European standards. We plan to defend the solutions adopted by the Polish parliament.”

European Interest has reported that Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will be in Poland from September 19 to 21 in order to assess the rule of law and respect for fundamental values. Also on September 19, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans is due to present the case against Poland to the College of Commissioners, after which infringement procedures may be moved to the ECJ.