The country’s Supreme Court has warned that Poland could have to leave the EU over its judicial reform proposals, which allows judges to be dismissed if they questioned the government’s reforms.
Judges say the proposals threaten the primacy of EU law and could be an attempt to gag the judiciary.
Poland has already been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding rules for judges.
Under the proposals put forward by the socially conservative Law and Justice party government, judges can be punished for engaging in “political activity” and any judge that questioned the legitimacy of judges nominated by the National Council of the Judiciary could be handed a fine or in some cases dismissed.
The ruling party claims changes to the law are needed to tackle corruption and overhaul the judicial system, which it says is still haunted by the communist era. But the EU accused Law and Justice (PiS) of politicising the judiciary since it came to power in 2015.
The Supreme Court said the party was undermining the principle of the primacy of EU law over national law. It said in a statement: “Contradictions between Polish and EU law…. will in all likelihood lead to an intervention by EU institutions regarding an infringement of EU treaties, and in the longer run [will lead to] the need to leave the European Union.”
It also said the proposed bill was “evidently” designed to allow President Andrzej Duda to pick a new head of the court before a presidential election which is expected in May.
Earlier this month, Poland saw thousands of people protest in cities and towns to show solidarity with judges who they said were facing intimidation. They called for the reinstatement of one judge, Pawel Juszczyszyn, who was dismissed from his post for questioning the appointment of another judge by the NCJ.
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