EU top court spells out independence requirements for Polish judiciary

EU top court spells out independence requirements for Polish judiciary
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's top court outlined on Wednesday the requirements for an independent and impartial judiciary system in Poland stressing it had to be shielded from external pressure and with clear rules on appointment and dismissal of judges.

The remarks by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) are part of a ruling on a case brought to it by Ireland if it should extradite a Pole wanted by a European arrest warrant if changes made to Poland's judiciary by the ruling party put the independence of courts in doubt.

"The Court points out that the requirement that courts be independent and impartial has two aspects. Thus, it is necessary for the bodies concerned (i) to exercise their functions wholly autonomously, shielded from external interventions or pressure, and (ii) to be impartial, which entails maintaining an equal distance from the parties to the proceedings and their respective interests," the ECJ said.

"Those guarantees of independence and impartiality require rules, particularly as regards the composition of courts and the appointment, length of service and grounds for abstention, rejection and dismissal of their members," it said.

"The requirement of independence also means that the disciplinary regime governing their members must display the necessary guarantees in order to prevent any risk of that regime being used as a system of political control of the content of judicial decisions," the ECJ said.

Many of the changes introduced by Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice party run against the points made by the ECJ.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski)

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