Top court sitting on primacy of Constitution over EU law adjourned

2021-09-30 20:12 update: 2021-10-01, 20:34
 Fot. PAP/Marcin Obara
Fot. PAP/Marcin Obara
The Constitutional Tribunal has adjourned its sitting regarding the supremacy of the Polish constitution over EU law, until October 7.

The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon by Constitutional Tribunal President Julia Przylebska.

The Constitutional Tribunal was due to issue a ruling twice before. During its August 31 session the case was postponed until September 22 after a motion was lodged by the Ombudsman, calling for the exclusion of one judge. On September 22, Julia Przylebska, the head of the Tribunal, after hearing the parties, announced another adjournment "due to the emergence of new circumstances."

The case came before Poland's top court in late March when Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked it to check if three points of the Treaty on the European Union were compatible with the Polish constitution.

Morawiecki said that the motion had been filed with the Tribunal "in order to once again and additionally confirm the supremacy of the Polish constitution, which is the highest legal act in the Polish legal system - over EU law." 

The case was brought by the Polish prime minister as part of a conflict with the EU over changes to Poland's judiciary. The Polish government has been accused of politicising the justice system because the top judicial self-governing body, the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), is now dominated by members appointed by the ruling party. Poland has also introduced a new disciplinary body at the Supreme Court that can strip judges of immunity, but this body is not recognised by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

According to the CJEU, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court is inconsistent with EU law. The European court has already demanded the suspension of the operation of the chamber on grounds that it can be used to undermine judicial independence. Despite this the chamber is still functioning.

In early September, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni appeared to suggest that negotiations between Brussels and Warsaw on Poland's National Recovery Plan were being drawn out by Poland calling into question the supremacy of EU law thus holding up EUR 57 billion in EU recovery aid to Warsaw.

A number of national courts in the EU have challenged the primacy of EU law in the past including the Danish Supreme Court in 2016, and the German Constitutional Court in its 2020 judgment on a public sector purchase programme. (PAP)