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Polish justice minister criticized for undermining EU court

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s justice minister on Wednesday faced criticism for seeking to undermine the right of Polish judges to consult the European Court of Justice amid a conflict over judicial reform.

Opposition parties said that Minister Zbigniew Ziobro undermined European Union treaties when earlier this month he asked Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal to rule that Polish judges have no right to consult the European court’s opinion on the country’s controversial judicial reform.

EU leaders insist that the reform violates the rule of law and have triggered an unprecedented sanctioning procedure.

Opposition parties say Ziobro’s move was a step toward leaving the 28-member bloc.

Ziobro said a similar request regarding judicial reform in Germany in 2009 has not damaged the nation’s position in the EU.

“Let me assure you that Poland is doing fine in the European Union and the government wants its status there to be no worse than that of Germany,” Ziobro said.

“If the Germans were able to ask questions, we can also ask questions” of the top court, he said.

Ziobro insists the European court has no power over Poland’s judicial reform.

Poland’s Supreme Court and some regional courts’ judges have consulted the European court on their early retirement, forced by the conservative government. It is not clear when the European court will rule on the issue.

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