Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

Irish precedent may halt EU extraditions to Poland

  • Dublin: Irish judge appalled by 'immense' Polish legal changes (Photo: William Murphy)

Extraditions by EU states of alleged criminals to Poland could stop after an Irish court ruling on the abnormality of Polish courts.

An Irish judge, Aileen Donnelly, triggered the situation on Monday (12 March), by requesting an opinion from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on whether Artur Celmer, who is wanted by Poland on drugs trafficking charges, would get a fair trial at home.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the PiS chairman, masterminded reforms (Photo: ois.org.pl)

The Polish government was guilty of "what appears to be the deliberate, calculated and provocative legislative dismantling ... of the independence of the judiciary, a key component of the rule of law," Donnelly said in delivering her ruling.

She said the changes in Poland were "immense" and that "rule of law in Poland has been systematically damaged" over the past two years.

The "constitutionality of Polish laws can no longer be effectively guaranteed", the Irish judge said.

If Celmer was extradited "he will be returning to face trial in a jurisdiction where the minister for justice is now the public prosecutor and is entitled to play an active role" in judicial appointments, she added.

"Respect for the rule of law is essential for mutual trust in the operation of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW)," she said.

The Irish ruling comes after the European Commission threatened sanctions against Poland over the judicial reforms put in place by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) after it gained power in 2016.

Ireland had arrested Celmer, a Polish national, in May on the basis of a Polish EAW request.

His lawyer, Ciaran Mulholland, said after the ECJ referral, that other member states would likely suspend EAW extraditions to Poland until the EU tribunal in Luxembourg had issued its opinion.

He said Celmer was now a "test case within the European Union dealing with extraditions to Poland."

"This landmark case may ultimately lead to an abrupt termination of the mutual understanding between Poland and other EU Member States in extradition proceedings," Mulholland said.

Laurent Pech, a law professor at Middlesex University in the UK, told The Guardian, a British newspaper, that the ECJ opinion could have wider implications.

"If the [ECJ] stops recognising Polish courts as courts within the meaning of EU law, this could then leave the European Commission no choice but to suspend EU funding to Poland. The impact on commercial arbitration involving Polish companies may also in time be too significant to be comfortably ignored by Polish authorities," he said.

But Poland's deputy justice minister, Marcin Warchol, shot back on Tuesday that Ireland should not make politics out of a drugs trafficking case.

Warchol said the Irish judge's ECJ referral should be overturned because she did not understand the nature of the Polish judicial reforms.

"It is incomprehensible that general, abstract deliberations, projections and speculations become the basis of such an important decision as the handover of a criminal sought in the whole of Europe," the Polish minister said, according to French news agency AFP.

Poland defends judicial reforms, warns against EU pressure

Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki presented the Commission with 94-pages of arguments backing Warsaw's controversial judicial reforms - while his EU minister warns that constant conflict with Brussels could stoke anti-European sentiment.

Poland shows no sign of concessions to Commission

While the dialogue between Warsaw and the Commission has improved since new prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki entered office, there is no sign of compromise over rule of law concerns - as the clock ticks towards a March deadline.

MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad

MEPs urged Poland to comply with the EU treaties and to halt the 'reform' of the judiciary that could further undermine the rule of law in the country. Polish PM Beata Szydlo called the vote 'outrageous'.

Opinion

Poland's disoriented EU policy

Neither a 'Three Seas' Baltics initiative, nor its burgeoning relationship with China, can save Poland from the fact it needs a strong EU orientation. But Law and Justice's 'more markets, less politics' attitude lost an ally in Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  2. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  3. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  4. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  5. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  6. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  7. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque
  8. Nature groups disappointed by EU fishing deal

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  2. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  4. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  5. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  6. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  7. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  8. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us