Over the last few years, Romania has carried out reforms within its judiciary, which attracted the attention of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) mainly due to the creation of a special division of the prosecutor’s office which deals with investigations against members of the judiciary and fighting corruption.
In mid-May, European judges decreed that such institutions require a guarantee that they will not be used as a tool for political control over the actions of judges and prosecutors. The ECJ also ordered Romanian courts to omit the Romanian Constitution if they believe that adhering to it would be in opposition to EU law.
Three weeks later, the Romanian Constitutional Court referred to the ECJ’s ruling and decreed that the EU’s top court is operating outside of the EU’s competencies and that the Romanian Constitution remains the highest law to be complied with by Romanian courts.
Polish Deputy Minister of Justice Sebastian Kaleta pointed out that in the last few years several European states had questioned the views of the ECJ, which has been “trying to raise its absolute primacy as part of the EU system through its decrees”.
W maju TSUE nakazał rumuńskim sądom pomijajanie tamtejszej konstytucji w sprawach dyscyplinarnych sędziów.
Rumuński TK właśnie orzekł, że TSUE przekroczył kompetencje, a rumuńska konstytucja jest nad traktatami.
— Sebastian Kaleta (@sjkaleta) June 21, 2021
Kaleta noted that just in the last two years the German and Romanian constitutional courts, along with the Spanish Supreme Court and French Conseil d’État, have questioned ECJ rulings, according to a report from Polish news outlet TVP.info.
The German Constitutional Court’s ruling was an especially big blow to the ECJ, with the German judges ruling that ECJ rulings do not take precedence over German law, and that the German Constitutional Court has the final say.
Hungary and Poland celebrated the German ruling at the time, as their own countries have come under increased pressure from the ECJ over a range of issues such as immigration and court reform. The ECJ, for example, has pressed Hungary and other Central European countries to accept migrant quotas and ruled that Hungary’s migrant transit zones were illegal.
It is also generally expected that the ECJ will rule against Hungary and Poland on the issue of whether sanctions can be imposed for rule-of-law violations, which could open the door to Brussels punishing the countries for their conservative position with severe financial penalties.
Kaleta underlined that “the systemic conflict over the EU’s future has been moved from the political field to the judiciary one”.
The minister also believes that Europeans have found themselves in a “historic moment which will determine whether the EU will become a fully-fledged state without changing any treaties and through ECJ dominance supported by financial blackmail.”