Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro on Monday denounced the Court of Justice of the European Union as ‘corrupt’ and rejected its ruling that a controversial Polish judicial reform violated EU law.
The Luxembourg-based court’s verdict “was not written by judges but politicians because it constitutes a clear violation of European treaties,” Ziobro said, adding that “the European Union’s top court is corrupt”.
The European Union stepped up its rule-of-law fight with member state Poland on Monday when the bloc’s highest court confirmed that Warsaw had refused to comply with EU rules on judicial independence for which it has already lost more than 500 million euros ($535 million) in fines.
The Court of Justice of the EU ruled that Poland’s 2019 justice reform infringed EU law after the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, said that the Polish Supreme Court lacked the necessary independence and impartiality.
“By today’s judgment, the Court upholds the Commission’s action,” a court statement said.
It was the latest in a streak of setbacks for the nationalist conservative ruling party in Poland, with many Poles furious at what they consider a dramatic erosion of democracy in the country. That sentiment boiled over into a massive anti-government protest in Warsaw on Sunday, probably the largest demonstration in Poland’s post-communist era, with an election coming up in the autumn.
Opposition leader Donald Tusk, who had called for the march, estimated that 500,000 Poles turned out.
“Bad news for the government,” declared the conservative Do Rzeczy news portal about the EU court ruling. The state broadcaster, TVP, which acts as a propaganda arm of the ruling party, said that the EU court had overstepped its powers and “attack Poland again. The court exceeds its powers.”
The court decision was, however, welcomed by lawyers and other legal experts who hope it might restore independence to the judiciary.
The EU court argued that “the value of the rule of law is an integral part of the very identity of the European Union as a common legal order and is given concrete expression in principles containing legally binding obligations for the Member States.” It said Poland didn’t meet these obligations.
Amid a plethora of condemnation and criticism, the court said that “the measures thus adopted by the Polish legislature are incompatible with the guarantees of access to an independent and impartial tribunal.”