The Polean-EU conflict is escalating. The Polish Constitutional Court has issued a ruling that undermines one of the most important principles within the EU. The Court has held that a controversial Polish disciplinary chamber for judges may continue to do its job, even though the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ordered the Chamber to cease work on several occasions pending a ruling on its legitimacy and independence.
According to Polish judges, the European Court goes beyond its booklet and has nothing to say about internal affairs. In doing so, they contradict the so-called priority principle: the agreement between EU Member States that European Court rulings are always binding and preceding in the event of conflict with national laws. This has been agreed to ensure that EU law applies to all EU citizens and businesses.
The Disciplinary Chamber is one of the many reforms overwhelming Brussels and Poland. The Polish government has been increasing the influence of politics on the judiciary for a few years. For example, the Polish Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and numerous lower courts were rapidly appointed new judges supporting the PiS governing party.
According to Brussels, the judges of the Disciplinary Chamber are also not independent and on the basis of the government. Primarily judges who have been critical of government and reforms must appear before the Chamber. The Court in Luxembourg therefore ruled twice that the Disciplinary Chamber should cease its activities. So far Poland ignores those statements.
The Polish government feels strengthened in its views by today‘s verdict. “Fortunately, the Polish Constitution and common sense outweigh the attempt by EU agencies trying to interfere with internal affairs, in this case Poland’s.”
opposition and opponents of the PIS regime, concern predominates. They fear that this is the first step towards a polexit, or at least an exit from the European legal order. They hope is that Brussels will now put more pressure, including by demanding fines and withholding subsidies.
The tumultuous week is not over yet. Tomorrow the European Court will present its final judgment on the Disciplinary Chamber. It is expected that the court will say that the room is not independent and therefore not legitimate. Tomorrow, the Polish Court would also rule on the wider question of what weighs more heavily, Polish or European law. That verdict was opposed to August 3.