EU takes Poland to its top court over judicial reform

September 24, 2018 - 4:26 am

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has decided to take Poland to the bloc's top court over the overhaul of the Polish judicial system and also ask the European Court of Justice to suspend a recent law on Supreme Court judges.

The EU's executive commission has been increasingly critical of Poland's judicial reform and has alleged some laws are a violation of Western democratic standards.

The EU's executive Commission said in a statement Monday that "the Polish law on the Supreme Court is incompatible with EU law as it undermines the principle of judicial independence."

The new Polish law on the retirement of judges at the Supreme Court put 27 of 72 judges at risk of being forced to retire, the Commission said, with no clear criteria on who can stay.

The Commission gave Warsaw a first warning in July and followed it up with another step in August before taking Monday's decision.

The Commision also asked the European Court of Justice to effectively suspend the retirement regime and make sure that those affected can continue in their jobs.

The Commission also wants new appointments to be halted while the court assesses the case.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said on private TVN24 that Poland would have liked the dispute around the Supreme Court changes closed, but also suggested that it will observe the EU tribunal's verdict.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki paid a visit to Judge Malgorzata Gersdorf at the Supreme Court, who is at the center of the conflict. The government says she is no longer the 1st Chairman of the court, while Gersdorf insists that, in line with the constitution, her term runs until early 2020.

Ten of the Supreme Court's judges have retired under the new regulations, while seven others, who wanted to continue at the court, had their requests rejected by President Andrzej Duda.