The European Union’s top court on Sunday ruled against Poland’s decision to make changes to the country’s judicial system that sparked months of protests, saying it threatens the rule of law in the member state.
The case against Poland is now before the EU’s top court in Luxembourg. The decision raises the prospect of Poland’s suspension of its voting rights at the EU level if the bloc decides that it’s no longer complying with the bloc’s governing treaty.
The case emerged after many EU members criticized the changes that were aimed at making it easier to dismiss judges and giving the government more control over court affairs. The issue was part of a wider dispute over Poland’s authoritarian tactics that are raising fears that the EU’s Eastern flank might be slipping away from the bloc’s will.
“We are now at a critical moment when Poland, as a member state, seems to be moving in a dangerous direction towards authoritarianism,” Polish President Andrzej Duda told reporters.
The case marks the second time in less than a year that the European Court of Justice has ruled against Poland over the overhaul of the Supreme Court, the country’s top court.
Culture Minister Piotr Glinski said the EU’s decision “is absolutely unacceptable” and that “no one can dare to dictate to Poland who should be its judges, how the courts should function, if they must be democratically elected and in whose hands they reside.”
The decision is in line with European Commission decision, Poland’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, which said the Government fully respects the rule of law and that the decisions of the European Commission are inconsistent with the EU treaties and international law.
Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.