The European Court of Justice says the judicial appointments process in Poland is inconsistent with EU law

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Polish government’s ability to send lower-court judges to higher courts – and subsequently dismiss them without giving reasons – is inconsistent with EU law.

The Luxembourg Court said that there must be “guarantees to prevent any risk of using these loans as a means of exercising political control over the content of judicial decisions”.

However, it found a number of factors that give the Polish Minister of Justice the power to “influence these judges and may raise doubts about their independence”.

In criminal cases, since the Minister of Justice also holds the position of attorney general who has authority over the lower court and seconded judges, there may be “reasonable doubts … about the impartiality of these seconded judges,” the ruling said.

It also questions the impartiality of seconded judges in disciplinary hearings.

Taken together, the European Court of Justice says that the powers of a government minister in relation to seconded judges do not guarantee “the independence which all judges should ordinarily enjoy in a state governed by the rule of law”.

He adds that doubts about judges’ impartiality also raise questions about the presumption of innocence in criminal cases.

The case arose after a Polish court asked the European Court of Justice to determine whether the government’s powers were violating the requirement for judicial independence.

The Polish national government participates in a A series of disputes with the European Union on judicial reforms and the rule of law, which critics say undermine the independence of the judiciary.

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