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European Union Launches Legal Action Against Poland
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Summary: The EU sent a letter to Poland that it would start an infringement procedure against the country for its proposed changes to the judicial system.

On Saturday, the European Union’s Commission started an infringement procedure against Poland for the country’s alleged attempts to undermine judges’ independence. According to Reuters, the EU has given Poland one month to respond.

  
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EU commissioners started the legal action after Poland published a law on Friday that affected the organization of its court system. The EU said that the laws were discriminatory to women and gave too much “discretionary power” to one leader.

The EU voiced concern that Poland’s minister of justice was allowed to prolong judge mandates and that he could dismiss and appoint court presidents at his discretion. The EU was also concerned that Poland had different retirement ages for men and women–60 for female judges and 65 for male judges.

“The new rules allow the minister of justice to exert influence on individual ordinary judges through, in particular, the vague criteria for the prolongation of their mandates thereby undermining the principle of irremovability of judges,” the EU Commission said in a statement to

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In response to the infringement procedure, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said to state news that Polish court presidents mostly perform administrative duties only. He added that the new laws on the retirement of judges was created to match another law about retirement age that will be implemented in October.

The head of the Polish president’s office, Krzysztof Szczerski, said that the laws the country’s internal organization works there and is misunderstood by the EU.



“The way the justice system is organized is an internal matter of every state and that is why it differs so much across the EU,” Szczerski said.

Poland said that the EU’s objections to their new bill was “blackmail” but that Warsaw was open to resolving the dispute with open dialogue. European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said on Friday that the organization wanted to invite Poland representatives to Brussels in order to “relaunch dialogue.”

The European Commission’s decision followed a week of street protests in the country against the ruling conservatives’ decision to change the judicial system. The new government has overall been polarizing to the people–some want the country to retain their democratic processes and others want the government to have more control over matters

“There was something different about the government’s latest moves that stirred Poles to protest,” The New York Times said. “Many here perceived the attempt to undercut the independence of the judiciary as a far broader and more fundamental threat to their freedoms than anything the government had tried before.”

In addition to the European Union’s objection to the new Polish law, Czech jurists, human rights groups, and the American Bar Association have also been outspoken in their criticism.

Source: Reuters

What do you think of the EU’s legal challenge against Poland? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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