Warsaw rejects Brussels' criticism of Supreme Court reforms

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-15 06:40:44|Editor: yan
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WARSAW, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Poland on Friday rejected the European Commission's criticism of its Supreme Court reforms, calling the European Union executive body's doubts in the matter "unfounded".

According to a statement by the Polish Foreign Ministry, Poland in its response to the Commission argued that the Commission's accusation of the breach of the EU law by Poland over the retirement regulations for Supreme Court judges were groundless as justice system reforms lay in the sole competency of the EU members and therefore violated no EU laws.

"The Republic of Poland underscored that, in keeping with EU treaties, the organisation of the justice system is the exclusive competency of the member states. Therefore, retirement [...] specifications for Supreme Court judges cannot be viewed as a violation by Poland of the [...] EU laws the Commission refers to," the statement read.

The ministry added that the Polish side had also pointed to the fact that the new Supreme Court regulations and the lower retirement threshold they introduced for judges in no way limited the independence of judges.

The Polish side also suggested that in case of further doubts in the matter, the Commission could refer it to the EU Court of Justice, which would then pass a final ruling in the case.

In December 2017, the Commission launched the EU Treaty's Article 7 rule-of-law procedure against Poland over justice reforms which the EU executive body believed had infringed on the independence of courts, including changes in retirement rules for Supreme Court judges. The procedure could potentially lead to sanctions for Poland, including the loss of its EU voting rights, but all EU countries would have to agree.

On Aug. 14, the Commission launched a further step in the procedure by reiterating its view on the illegality of the Supreme Court reforms in a so-called reasoned opinion sent to Poland. At the time, the Commission gave Poland one month to reply to the opinion.

In early August, Poland's Supreme Court (SN) sent five questions to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) concerning government amendments to its own regulations which cut the retirement age for SN judges to 65 from 70. The court also suspended the questioned regulations until the CJEU's response in the matter. In September, the Supreme Court forwarded two further queries to the CJEU concerning the constitutionality of judicial appointment procedures to the Polish National Judicial Council.