The European Commission has requested the European Court of Justice to freeze a new Polish law that would allow judges critical of the government’s changes to the judiciary to be dismissed. Poland’s eurosceptic Law and Justice Party (PiS) changed the process of appointing judges in 2018, when it allowed the lower house of parliament, which it controls, to choose the council members who appoint judges. The government has argued that these changes were necessary to tackle corruption and make the legal system more efficient, but critics say the independence of Poland’s judges is being eroded.
Conflict over the rule of law in Poland is increasing as the country’s Supreme Court and politicians have issued conflicting orders on the matter, with Poland’s highest court claiming that judges are not sufficiently independent and should, therefore, suspend hearing cases. In the meantime, lawmakers in the lower house of parliament have approved further legislation facilitating dismissal of critical judges. The European Union has initiated an unprecedented rule of law process against Poland, expressing its concern that the government has been continuously defying the laws and standards it agreed to uphold when it joined the EU in 2004. Some experts warn that such developments pose a threat to the entire European Union legal system.