Polish justice minister, top court head defy EU court ruling

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said at a press conference on Tuesday that he did not agree with the verdict, calling it "unacceptable." Tomasz Gzell/PAP

The Polish justice minister and the Constitutional Tribunal president have scorned the latest verdict of the EU's Court of Justice that Poland's reformed judicial council lacks effective control over its decisions.

The overhaul, according to critics, has effectively banned candidates for top judicial positions from questioning in court decisions made by the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS). Critics also say the Council has been politicised as its line-up is now largely determined by politicians.

"Successive amendments to the Polish Law on the National Council of the Judiciary, which have the effect of removing effective judicial review of that council's decisions proposing to the President of the Republic candidates for the office of judge at the Supreme Court, are liable to infringe EU law," the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said.

According to the CJEU, if a Polish court finds that the amendments infringe EU law, the court is obliged to refrain from complying with these amendments.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said at a press conference on Tuesday that he did not agree with the verdict, calling it "unacceptable."

"If you ask me if I accept the verdict, (...) where the justification says that it is mandatory to completely ignore the national legal and constitutional order, then I certainly will never accept such a verdict," Ziobro said.

Julia Przyłębska, president of the Constitutional Tribunal, told PAP that the ruling violated Poland's constitutional order and overstepped EU treaties.

"The Constitutional Tribunal ruled on numerous occasions that the Polish constitution bars any interference of courts in the judicial appointments procedure," Przyłębska said.

"Appointing judges is the sole prerogative of the President of Poland and no one can restrict that," she added. Quoting recent Constitutional Tribunal's rulings, she said that "in the event of collision between EU law and Poland's constitution, the Polish constitution prevails."