EU justice ministers begin hearings on controversial Polish judicial reforms

EU justice ministers begin hearings on controversial Polish judicial reforms

Several EU ministers will hold a hearing in Brussels today, where Polish representatives will be questioned regarding Poland’s recent changes

People protest against the conservative government’s makeover of the Polish judiciary in Warsaw

Photo: Agencja Gazeta/Dawid Zuchowicz via Reuters

Several EU ministers will hold a hearing in Brussels today, where Polish representatives will be questioned regarding Poland’s recent changes to the judiciary.

The EU has repeatedly condemned Poland’s judiciary reform—passed in January—that reduces the maximum age judges can be and subsequently forces out nearly half into retirement. The reform favours Poland’s conservative and euroscpetic Law and Justice (PiS) party. The right-wing party currently holds a majority in Poland’s parliament and its National Council for the Judiciary, which is responsible for appointing 27 new Supreme Court judges.

In response, the Brussels sued Poland, claiming the reform is a violation of EU rule of law stipulations.

Today’s hearing at the European Court of Justice will almost certainly widen the rift between Poland and the EU. It is unlikely that EU representatives will be sympathetic to Poland’s claim that the reforms make court procedures more efficient. In the event that Brussels wins the lawsuit, expect the EU to threaten to suspend Poland’s voting rights or its membership at the extreme, similarly to how the EU has been dealing with Hungary. However, given that Hungary will vote against this decision requiring unanimity, Poland may simply face pushback in future EU interactions.

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