PILC Programme in the CJEU – a landmark case in the company of President Lenaerts and Judge Regan (PILC ’78)

On Tuesday 12 February, the PILC students of the IES had a rare opportunity to witness an important piece of EU law being created. In the landmark case C-619/18, the Commission has boldly taken Poland to Court for breaching the rule of law. More specifically, Poland is charged for failing in its obligation to provide remedies sufficient to ensure effective legal protection in the fields covered by Union law (Art 19(1) TEU & Art 47 EUCFR), because it had unilaterally decreased the retirement age of the judges in the Polish Supreme Court. The change effectively forced the judges to leave the Court against their own will, which threatens the independence of the judiciary. This is in the Commission’s view a serious failure that jeopardises the mutual trust on which the entire EU politico-legal system is based. The students, together with the Programme management (Jean Monnet Chair Harri Kalimo, Prof. Tony Joris and Marleen Van Impe), were first given a briefing on the case by Dr. Luca Prete, a PILC Guest lecturer who works as a Legal Secretary in the chambers of Advocate general Bobek at the CJEU. After the hearing, where the group saw the Grand Chamber of the CJEU interrogating the parties for almost two hours, the President of the Court Koen Lenaerts gave his personal insights on the state of affairs in the Union law and policy surrounding these controversies. The day ended with a lunch, which President Lenaerts traditionally offered the PILC group, allowing for further exchanges with him as well as Dr Prete and PILC alumnus (’78) Eugene Regan, who is the Irish judge and the President of the 5th Chamber of the Court.