Article 6 - Right to liberty and security
Article 10 - Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Article 11 - Freedom of expression and information
Article 12 - Freedom of assembly and of association
Article 13 - Freedom of the arts and sciences
Article 15 - Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work
Article 16 - Freedom to conduct a business
Article 20 - Equality before the law
Article 21 - Non-discrimination
Article 23 - Equality between women and men
Article 47 - Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
Article 48 - Presumption of innocence and right of defence
Article 49 - Principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties
Article 50 - Right not to be tried or punished twice in criminal proceedings for the same criminal offence
Key facts of the case:
Action for annulment – Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 – General regime of conditionality for the protection of the European Union budget – Protection of the Union budget in the case of breaches of the principles of the rule of law in the Member States – Legal basis – Article 322(1)(a) TFEU – Article 311 TFEU – Article 312 TFEU – Alleged circumvention of Article 7 TEU and Article 269 TFEU – Alleged infringements of Article 4(1), Article 5(2) and Article 13(2) TEU, of the second paragraph of Article 296 TFEU, of Protocol (No 2) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and of the principles of conferral, legal certainty, proportionality and equality of the Member States before the Treaties – Alleged misuse of powers.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Full Court) hereby:
56) It is precisely openness in that regard which, by allowing divergences between various points of view to be openly debated, contributes to reducing doubts in the minds of citizens, not only as regards the lawfulness of an isolated legislative measure but also as regards the legitimacy of the legislative process as a whole (see, to that effect, judgment of 1 July 2008, Sweden and Turco v Council, C‑39/05 P and C‑52/05 P, EU:C:2008:374, paragraph 59), and contributes to strengthening the principles of democracy and respect for fundamental rights as laid down in Article 6 TEU and in the Charter, as stated in recital 2 of Regulation No 1049/2001.
193) The preamble to the Charter states, inter alia, that the European Union is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law and recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter. Articles 6, 10 to 13, 15, 16, 20, 21 and 23 of the Charter define the scope of the values of human dignity, freedom, equality, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and equality between women and men, contained in Article 2 TEU. Article 47 of the Charter and Article 19 TEU guarantee, inter alia, the right to an effective remedy and the right to an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law, as regards the protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by EU law.
196) As regards, in particular, the value of the rule of law, certain aspects of that value are protected by Article 19 TEU, as the Republic of Poland indeed acknowledges. The same is true of Articles 47 to 50 of the Charter, contained in Title VI, entitled ‘Justice’, which guarantee, respectively, the right to an effective remedy and the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence and rights of the defence, the principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties and the right not to be tried or punished twice for the same criminal offence.
198) The Court has also ruled that the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU, interpreted in the light of Article 47 of the Charter, imposes on the Member States a clear and precise obligation as to the result to be achieved that is not subject to any condition as regards the independence which must characterise the courts called upon to interpret and apply EU law, with the result that it is for a national court to disapply any provision of national law which infringes the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU, if necessary after obtaining from the Court an interpretation of that provision in the context of a reference for a preliminary ruling (see, to that effect, judgment of 2 March 2021, A.B. and Others (Appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court – Actions), C‑824/18, EU:C:2021:153, paragraphs 142 to 146).