Noticing the complex situation in Poland, especially the yesterday ”Black Friday for Judiciary” (February 14, 2020), The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association one more time urges the Responsible Executive and Legislative Authorities of Poland to respect the European standards on judicial independence.
The new regulations (the ”Muzzle Law”) introduce the disciplinary responsibility of those judges who might hinder the functioning of the judicial system. New provisions also forbid judges to conduct any public activity which cannot be reconciled with the rules assuring the judges’ independence, such as resolutions of judicial organisations which undermine the rules governing the functioning of the authorities of Poland and its constitutional organs.
The amendments diminish judicial independence and put Polish judges into the impossible situation of having to face disciplinary proceedings for decisions required by the ECHR, the law of the European Union, and other international instruments. New disciplinary offences are introduced and the influence of the Minister of Justice on disciplinary proceedings is increased further. Appeal courts will no longer be able to assess the correct composition of lower level court chambers, depriving litigants of an important guarantee. (Venice Commission opinion on the “Muzzle Law”)
We strongly reaffirm the need to respect of the principles of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
The Copenhagen Criteria, as the EU admissibility criteria are known, defined by the Council in Copenhagen, in June 1993, are the following: stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities; a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces; administrative and institutional capacity to effectively implement the acquis and ability to take on the obligations of membership.
Article 2 TEU reads as follows: ”The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”
The principle of the primacy of EU law establishes the pre-eminence of EU law over the law of the Member States (judgment of 24 June 2019, Popławski, C‑573/17, EU:C:2019:530, paragraph 53). That principle therefore requires all Member State bodies to give full effect to the various EU provisions, and the law of the Member States may not undermine the effect accorded to those various provisions in the territory of those States (judgment of 24 June 2019, Popławski, C‑573/17, EU:C:2019:530, paragraph 54). The principle that national law must be interpreted in conformity with EU law, by virtue of which the national court is required, to the greatest extent possible, to interpret national law in conformity with the requirements of EU law, is inherent in the system of the treaties, since it permits the national court, within the limits of its jurisdiction, to ensure the full effectiveness of EU law when it determines the dispute before it (judgment of 24 June 2019, Popławski, C‑573/17, EU:C:2019:530, paragraph 55).
We are fully supporting the struggle to maintain the independence and democratic ties of our colleagues in Poland.
The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association
February 15, 2020
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