The Advocate General to the Court of Justice of the European Union issued his opinion after he said two Polish courts sought guidance from the top EU court “as to whether the new regime for disciplinary proceedings against judges in Poland meets the requirements of judicial independence.”
“I have reached the conclusion that the requests for a preliminary ruling in the present cases are inadmissible because the Court cannot issue advisory opinions on general or hypothetical problems,” said the adviser, Evgeni Tanchev.
He added that, in his opinion, “the Court is not in possession of sufficient factual and legal material to determine whether there has been a breach of the obligation on Member States to guarantee judicial independence…”
That statement by Tanchev came in response to requests for preliminary rulings from two Polish district courts, one in the central city of Łódź and another in the capital, Warsaw.
The two courts had expressed doubts over new Polish rules to discipline judges, which critics say have targeted judges critical of the country’s governing conservatives.
Poland’s Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Warchoł on Tuesday welcomed the EU court adviser’s opinion, saying it confirmed that those who had submitted the requests for preliminary rulings “were solely guided by political motives,” state news agency PAP reported.
In an earlier opinion, Tanchev said in June that a new disciplinary chamber in Poland's Supreme Court did not meet the requirements of judicial independence.
At the time, Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said that Tanchev’s opinion questioning judicial changes in Poland was “highly inconsistent internally” and incompatible with the bloc’s treaties.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, in July launched the second stage of an infringement procedure against Warsaw over the new Polish disciplinary rules for judges.
When it started its procedure against Poland in April, the Commission argued that new rules have undermined the independence of Polish judges "by not offering necessary guarantees to protect them from political control."
Poland's governing Law and Justice party, which came to power in late 2015, has insisted that sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past.
Poland’s prime minister argued in January that some of the legal changes made by his conservative government have met with criticism abroad because they are not understood in Western Europe.
Source: PAP, TVP Info, curia.europa.eu