POSTS BY Maciej Taborowski

Drawing Red Lines and Giving (Some) Bite – the CJEU’s Deficiencies Judgment on the European Rule of Law

The illiberal turn in Europe has many facets. Of particular concern are Member States in which ruling majorities uproot the independence of the judiciary. For reasons well described in the Verfassungsblog, the current focus is on Poland. Since the Polish development is emblematic for a broader trend, more is at stake than the rule of law in that Member State alone (as if that were not enough). If the Polish emblematic development is not resisted, illiberal democracies might start co-defining the European constitutional order, in particular, its rule of law-value in Article 2 TEU. Accordingly, the conventional liberal self-understanding of  Europe could easily erode, with tremendous implications.

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CJEU Opens the Door for the Commission to Reconsider Charges against Poland

In the Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses judgment the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) deemed that on the basis of Article 19(1) TEU it is competent to evaluate the guarantee of independence of judges if only they sit in a national court that may apply and interpret EU law. In light of this ruling, the European Commission in the infringement proceedings against Poland does not have to restrict itself to the slightly modified “Hungarian scenario” (hitherto preferred by it). It may instead once again analyse the scope of charges with regard to the Common Courts System Act (the CCS Act), and may even lodge a new complaint concerning i.a. the Act on the Supreme Court.

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The Commission takes a step back in the fight for the Rule of Law

The European Commission has filed a complaint against Poland with the Court of Justice of the European Union based on Article 258 TFEU, in connection with the Polish Act on the Common Courts System. Fines may be charged on Poland as a result of the case, but the Commission has probably quietly withdrawn some of its charges, apparently opting for the somewhat modified “Hungarian scenario”. The impact of this new approach on the reversibility of the changes introduced to the Polish judiciary will be very limited.

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