EU top court’s advocate general says Polish law on judges against EU treaty

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Poland’s law introduced by the nationalist ruling coalition that allows the justice minister to second judges to higher courts and end that secondment at any moment is incompatible with EU treaties, the EU top court’s advocate general said on Thursday.

The opinion is yet another blow to the euro-sceptic ruling coalition in Poland which has been at odds with the European Union over the changes it has been introducing to the judiciary since it took power in late 2015.

The EU’s top court usually, though not always, follows the opinion of the advocate general in its rulings.

“The Advocate General concludes that, in circumstances such as those in the main proceedings, the minimum guarantees necessary to ensure the indispensable separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary are no longer present,” the advocate general said in a statement.

“The national rules at issue do not offer safeguards sufficient to inspire in the individuals, especially those subject to criminal proceedings, reasonable confidence that the judges sitting on the panel are not subject to external pressure and political influence, and have no vested interest in the outcome of the case,” he said. 

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Photo: EPA-EFE/Toms Kalnins