The Power of ‘Appearances’

Last week the EU Court of Justice replied to Polish Supreme Court’s preliminary references regarding the independence of judges of its Disciplinary Chamber. The good news is that the ECJ gave to all Polish courts a powerful tool to ensure each citizen’s right to a fair trial before an independent judge, without undermining the systems of judicial appointments in other Member States. The bad news is that the test of appearance may easily be misused or abused.

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Three Steps Ahead, One Step Aside: The AG’s Opinion in the Commission v. Poland Case

In the infringement case about forced retirement of Polish Supreme Court judges, the Advocate General has delivered his much-awaited opinion. The AG proposed that the Court should declare that Poland failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 19 TEU. I do agree with this conclusion. I do not share, however, the Advocate General’s view that the complaint of the Commission should be rejected as inadmissible as far as it is based on the right to an independent judge under Article 49 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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1095 Days Later: From Bad to Worse Regarding the Rule of Law in Poland (Part I)

On 13 January 2016, exactly three years ago today, the Commission activated the so-called rule of law framework for the very first time with respect to Poland. As things stand today, Polish authorities’ sustained and systematic attacks on the rule of law now more than ever directly threaten the very functioning of the EU legal order.

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Why the EU Commission and the Polish Supreme Court Should not Withdraw their Cases from Luxembourg

The forced retirement of Polish Supreme Court judges has been reversed by the Polish legislator. Should the EU Commission and the Court of Justice now end their infringement procedure against Poland, too? There are several reasons why they should not.

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Europe’s Rule of Law Dialogues: Process With No End in Sight

The cause for concern is not that violators of the rule of law are strategic political actors or that they are disingenuous. Rather, the real problem is the unspoken premise on the basis of which defenders of the rule of law are more and more inclined to accept these developments as the very features of the EU’s rule of law safeguards. This acceptance is based on the flawed premise that so long as a procedure is in place one cannot really do more to defend the rule of law.

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Why the Polish Supreme Court’s Reference on Judicial Independence to the CJEU is Admissible after all

On August 2nd 2018, the Polish Supreme Court has referred questions to the European Court of Justice about whether or not the forced retirement of most of its senior judges and other infringements of judicial independence are compatible with EU law. That decision is a landmark step in the serious constitutional crisis in Poland that has been going on for several years. One issue is of fundamental importance: Is the SC’s preliminary reference  to the CJEU admissible?

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The Rule of Law Crisis in Poland: A New Chapter

The current controversies on the Polish Supreme Court resemble the conflict over the Constitutional Tribunal in 2015-216 to some extent. However, the Supreme Court took new steps on August 2, when it referred five questions to the Court of Justice of the EU and requested a preliminary ruling. All five questions relate (more or less directly) to the principles of (1) independence of the courts and (2) the judicial independence under the circumstances of the rule of law crisis in Poland and thus have a potential of becoming a key aspect in the Polish rule of law crisis.

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Polish Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Under Pressure: What Now?

These days mark the capture of the second-last central institution not yet fully under the control of the Polish Law and Justice party, namely, the Supreme Court (the last remaining one being the Ombudsman office). Having captured the Constitutional Tribunal, the National Council of Judiciary, electoral commissions, media regulation boards, prosecutorial offices and presidents of all local, regional and appellate courts, the illiberal revolution is eager to devour the highest court of the land.

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