The Polish Judicial Council v The Bulgarian Judicial Council: Can You Spot the Difference?

On 17 September 2018, in Bucharest, the General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) voted to suspend the membership of the Polish National Judicial Council (KRS) due to growing fears of lack of judicial independence in Poland. It was reported that 100 representatives voted for suspension, 6 were against (the Polish delegation), and 9 abstained. The Bulgarian delegation was among the abstainees, so Western commentators may wonder what the motivation for this position was.

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Bad Response to a Tragic Choice: the Case of Polish Council of the Judiciary

A few days ago, the courageous and intelligent Chief Justice of the Polish Supreme Court, Professor Małgorzata Gersdorf, announced that, after some agonizing due to important legal and moral dilemmas at stake, she decided after all to convene the first, inaugural meeting of the National Council of Judiciary. The meeting is to take place on 27 April. The decision was met with dismay on the part of some lawyers and relief on the part of others. Generally, however, it did not prompt any particularly strong responses on either side. But the decision is momentous, both in its practical consequences and as a matter of principle.

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The Rule of Law in Poland: A Sorry Spectacle

With political appointments to its National Council of the Judiciary, Poland is now seeing the next step in the dismantling the rule of law. The change in the procedure for appointments to the Council was one of the reasons thousands of Poles took to the streets last summer to protest in the name of independent courts. Their fears have turned out to be well founded.

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President Duda is Destroying the Rule of Law instead of Fixing it

Were the president of any country to propose acts of law that remove almost half of the members of its supreme court, interrupt the constitutional term of office of the chairperson of such court, give himself the right to appoint a new chairperson of the court, and finally, interrupt the constitutionally defined term of office of a judicial council responsible for appointing judges, the consequences of such manifestly unconstitutional solutions would be massive public opposition and accusations of a coup d’état.  And yet in Poland, where this is exactly what is happening, the President’s proposals are met with understanding.  Why?  Because they are perceived as better than the even more unconstitutional proposals put forward earlier by the ruling party, Law and Justice. 

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Die aktuellste Justizreform in Polen: ist dies das endgültige Ende der Rechtsstaatlichkeit?

Während der Streit um den Verfassungsgerichtshof aus polnischer Sicht als mittlerweile beendet gilt, versucht die Europäische Union eine passende Lösung zu finden, die in der Empfehlung der Kommission geäußerten Forderungen durchzusetzen. Die regierende Partei „Recht und Gerechtigkeit“ beschließt jedoch in der Zwischenzeit weitere Justizreformen, die genauso, wie das umstrittene Verfassungsgerichtshofgesetz, gegen die Grundsätze der Europäischen Union aus Art. 2 EUV, vor allem gegen die Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Demokratie, verstoßen können.

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The Polish Judiciary Reform: Problematic under European standards and a Challenge for Germany

The latest efforts of the Polish government to reform the judiciary have met with fierce criticism both nationally and internationally. A new legislation concerning the National Council for the Judiciary has recently been introduced to the Polish Parliament and awaits deliberation. The approach the Polish government has chosen is indeed problematic in the light of European standards for Councils for the Judiciary – but so is the German model of selecting judges, which the Polish governments explicitly refers to as a point of reference for their reform.

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