EU members can reject Polish arrest warrants

As a result of Poland's judicial reform, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Wednesday that EU member states can refuse to enforce Polish arrest warrants if they have grounds to believe that suspects extradited to Poland would not receive a fair trial. Commentators view the decision as both a source of relief and a disaster.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Both just and sad

The ruling says a lot about the current state of Europe, the Süddeutsche Zeitung observes:

“The European Union is a community of trust. Its member states trust each other to respect and uphold democracy, freedom and the rule of law. ... In recent times, however, trust in Europe has diminished. The basic consensus on how societies should be structured politically is disappearing. Hungary's prime minister is setting his concept of an 'illiberal democracy' against the Western concept of liberal democracy. And in Poland the government is pushing through a judicial reform aimed at deforming the courts - turning them into government instruments. ... The ruling is both just and sad. It shows how much trust in Europe has been lost.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Fight against crime rendered impossible

From now on the law enforcement agencies in Poland will no longer be able to function properly, Gazeta Wyborcza fears:

“This is not just a defeat for the creators of the Law and Justice party's so-called judicial reform. It is a disaster for the entire country. Because from now on suspects can hide in other countries, which renders the work of the police and prosecutors useless, as the EU courts won't approve their extradition. In court, defence lawyers will argue that the rule of law in Poland has been destroyed and that its judiciary has been made subordinate to the politicians. The official reports of the EU and the Council of Europe will convince judges that this is the case. In practice, Poland will drop out of the European arrest warrant system.”