poland

Juridical System Reform in Poland & the EU

Polish opposition strong relations with the EU elites add fuel to the EU pressure on Poland. The result is the decline of the EU prestige in Poland and a growing impression among Poles that the opposition having no its own proposal of the reform of judiciary tries to use foreign pressure to overthrow legally elected parliamentary majority and the government based on it.

Polish juridical system has been inherited from communist times and both institutionally and personally is a direct continuation of the structures shaped before 1989. There are still three judges in the Supreme Court who were condemning anti-communist opposition members for imprisonment in 1980s and two who were the agents of communist secret service. In the lower tribunals that situation is a standard. No crime of the martial law time has ever been punished in Poland during last 28 years. The only factor of changes in justice system is biology still the strong nepotism in the lawyers milieu results in the emergence of the juridical dynasties where the profession is inherited by the children of the judges. The entrance to the profession is based on cooptation principle so only judges decide on who can become a judge. This result in a corporative nature of the justice system in Poland. The judges are out of any kind of democratic control by the citizens and are legally practically irresponsible for whatever they do. The result is corruption and numerous scandals when corrupted judges co-operated with oligarchic mafias and remained on their posts protected by other judges and by the principle of their independence and immunity. The system is extremely ineffective - the trials lasts for years so Poland is frequently condemned by the ECHR for excessively long judicial proceedings in Polish courts of justice.

The government has launched the legislative action to reform the system. This has been presented by the opposition as unconstitutional coup d’état against the independent judiciary. The nature of the proposed changes is a subject of the political conflict in Poland and the legal interpretation of its character depends on the political sympathy of the experts. The opposition being involved in many corruption scandals and threatened with real legal responsibility if the courts of justice are reformed claims to defend the independence of the courts while in fact its goal is to prevent any changes and to use the conflict to fight the government. It appeals to the EU showing the conflict as a struggle against the alleged dictatorship.

The EU position on the problem in question is motivated with a couple of factors. The government has effectively limited the illegal outflow of money from Poland (budgetary incomes from VAT tax alone have risen by 40%) which is a heavy blow for foreign companies in Poland. There is the ideological conflict between conservative government in Poland and leftist mainstream of the EU and a contradiction between a strong pro-American position of Warsaw and its mistrust to Russia and the EU elites anti-Americanism in the costume of anti-Trumpism combined with German-Russian Nord Stream 2 project supported by the EU. Polish opposition strong relations with the EU elites (symbolized by Donald Tusk) add fuel to the EU pressure on Poland. The result is the decline of the EU prestige in Poland and a growing impression among Poles that the opposition having no its own proposal of the reform of judiciary tries to use foreign pressure to overthrow legally elected parliamentary majority and the government based on it.

Author: Przemysław Żurawski vel Grajewski

27.07.2017