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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland has right to judicial reform, minister tells EU official

19.11.2021 08:45
Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has said he has told EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders that the country is entitled to reform its judicial system, "like any other member" of the bloc.
Polands Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro (centre) and the European Unions Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders (R), meet in Warsaw on Thursday.
Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro (centre) and the European Union's Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders (R), meet in Warsaw on Thursday.PAP/Rafał Guz

The two met in Warsaw on Thursday came as Poland remains locked in a dispute with the European Union over the rule of law. One issue is its national system for disciplining judges, Poland's PAP news agency reported. 

Ziobro told the media after the meeting that he had spoken with Reynders about points of agreement as well as differences of opinion between Warsaw and Brussels.

He added he had gifted Reynders pictures of the Polish capital that showed how the city was destroyed by the Nazi Germans during World War II.

"I alluded to these photos during our cordial policy discussion, and I stressed that Polish people will always be very sensitive to whether member states are treated equally and respected within the European community," Ziobro said.

The right to judicial reform

"This Polish government, this Polish minister, will never accept that some countries can reform their judiciary, by democratising judicial apointments, for example, while others can't, just because some European Commission official, some judge at the EU's Court of Justice, or some politician in Berlin, says so," Ziobro told reporters.

He said he disagreed with Reynders over which court had primacy, the EU's top court (CJEU) or Poland's Constitutional Tribunal.

"I made it clear that, as our constitutional court has maintained for years, whenever Polish verdicts clash with those issued by European courts, especially the CJEU, it is the Constitutional Tribunal which has the last word in Poland," Ziobro stated. 

He added that in this connection, he had cited the rulings of constitutional courts in other countries, such as Germany.  

The rules for disciplining judges

Ziobro's deputy Marcin Warchoł said that Reynders had raised the issue of "supposed pressures on our judges" and "the implementation of CJEU rulings."

"We provided evidence that, by implementing all verdicts of the CJEU, including with regard to disciplining judges, several hundred cases against judges would have to be dropped," he told reporters.

"This would mean impunity, even for such outrageous offences as drink-driving," Warchoł added.

The EU's top court last month ordered Poland to pay a daily fine of EUR 1 million for not suspending a contested disciplinary chamber for judges, adding to pressure on Warsaw over the rule of law.

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info