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At the beginning of the month, the European Commission gave Poland an ultimatum: either it complies with the CJEU’s July decision and suspends the contested Disciplinary Chamber for judges until August 16, or Brussels will ask the top EU court to impose financial penalties.
The Polish government waited with the decision until the very last moment. In its official response sent to the Commission just minutes before the deadline, it points out that the Constitutional Tribunal has been assessing the constitutionality of EU law since Poland became a member of the European Union. "According to Article 8(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, the Constitution is the supreme law in Poland, and its supremacy over laws and ratified international agreements also results from the principle of national sovereignty, established in Article 4(1)"- reads the statement.
In its defense, the government argues that the constitutional courts of other member states (including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, France, Romania, and Spain) have also ruled on similar cases and that their actions did not raise any objections from the European Commission.
"The problem of the relationship between national law and EU law exists in many member states whose constitutional courts emphasize the primacy of national constitutions in their case law and adopt a strict definition of the scope of competences entrusted to the European Union" - writes the Polish government.
As for the contested Disciplinary Chamber itself: according to an order issued by the Supreme Court’s First President Małgorzata Manowska, new judicial disciplinary cases brought before the Supreme Court will not be referred to it for consideration. The Polish government, however, claims it does not have the means to suspend the activity of the chamber and the effects of the decisions rendered therein without violating the principle of judicial independence.
The Disciplinary Chamber will thus be dissolved in the coming months - as part of the "next stage of the judicial reform".
Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram, an attorney at law and member of the "Free Courts" initiative, is skeptical about it. - The original sin of the ruling camp’s entire justice "reform" is the politicized, and illegally staffed National Council of the Judiciary. If the Chamber disappears and is replaced by another entity, designated by the same Council, it won’t change anything. It will continue to oppress judges, even for things like asking the CJEU preliminary questions.
Poland has also filed a motion to repeal the interim measures ordered by the CJEU.
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