Poland: Constitutional opt out puts country on collision course with the EU

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has today ruled that Polish law takes primacy over EU law, and breaches of EU law in Poland can no longer be referred to the EU Court of Justice, by Polish courts. Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office said:

“This is another dark day for justice in Poland. With this ruling the court has effectively ruled that Polish law supersedes EU law, and challenged the EU’s ability to protect human rights and the rule of law within member states. The ruling is part of a wider struggle over independence of the judiciary in Poland.”

Eve Geddie Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office

The EU Court has played an important role in safeguarding Polish judges against a mounting attack on judicial independence.

“With the move to brazenly sidestep the EU Court and the protection it offers, Poland has steered itself on a collision course with the European Union. The EU and member states must take urgent legal, political and financial action and make clear that these fundamental principles are not open to negotiation or gamesmanship,” said Eve Geddie.

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BACKGROUND

The ruling was issued in response to the query of the Prime Minister of Poland, who asked the Constitutional Tribunal to examine the compliance of provisions of the Treaty on EU, in particular the principle of primacy of EU law, with the Polish Constitution.

However, the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal itself has been questioned by the European institutions as well as the European Court of Human Rights. Today’s ruling was delivered by a full bench of the Constitutional Tribunal, including irregularly appointed judges. As such, it did not meet the requirements of an independent court.

On 15 July, the EU Court held that the disciplinary regime for judges in Poland is not compatible with EU law and asked Poland to take the measures necessary to rectify the situation.