Engaging EU Leadership in Responding to Attacks on the Independence of European Judges
In October, the CEELI Institute co-sponsored and hosted a high-level roundtable on threats to judicial independence in Europe with the Czech Union of Judges, in conjunction with the Union’s Annual Meeting. Keynote speaker for the event was Vera Jourova, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, who is one of the figures at the forefront of current EU efforts to defend the rule of law in Europe in response to attacks on the judiciary, particularly by the Polish government.
The roundtable focused, particularly, on attacks to judicial independence in Central and Eastern Europe, with special attention being given to the situation facing the Judiciary in Poland, and the role that the European Union can play in supporting the judiciary. Representatives of several of the Polish judicial associations made compelling appeals for international assistance in the face of the current attacks on them and their colleagues. They outlined, in concrete detail, the ways in which the Polish government has coopted disciplinary and other administrative measures to punish judges who are perceived as not being sufficiently in line with the ruling government’s policies.
Among those also attending the program was Judge Jose Igreja Matos, President of the International Association of Judges, along with the Presidents of the Austrian, Dutch, and Slovak judicial associations, and judicial representatives from Germany, Hungary, and the United States. There was clear consensus among the participants that there must be concrete sanctions, with real costs and consequences for European governments that fail in their obligations to uphold the rule of law and that actively undermine the independence of their own judiciaries.