Finance

Poland must pay EU million a day as long as there is a dispute over the rule of law

The European Commission had asked the court for the sanction because the government in Warsaw does not want to come to terms with the lingering conflict with Brussels over the reforms of the Polish judiciary. These affect the independence of the Polish judiciary, Brussels believes, as the European Court agreed in July.

‘Abuse of power and blackmail’

The Polish government is furious and speaks of ‘abuse of power and blackmail’. The court “exceeds its powers,” said deputy justice minister Sebastian Kaleta. Poland can refuse to transfer the penalty payment to the European Commission, but that does not help the country. The amount can also be deducted from EU subsidies that the country receives.

The legal tug-of-war with the European institutions is beginning to weigh on the Polish treasury. Last month, the Luxembourg court also imposed a penalty on Poland for refusing to close a coal mine that would pollute Czech territory. That costs Poland half a million a day. The dispute over the rule of law also stops the payment of billions of euros from the European corona recovery fund to Poland.

The amount of a penalty usually indicates, among other things, how serious the European Court considers the failure to be. A few years ago, the court held it at EUR 100,000 a day, in yet another Polish case.

The European Court ordered Poland to suspend the disciplinary court in July. If the country continues to fail to do so, there is a risk of ‘serious and irreparable damage to the legal order of the European Union and to the values ​​on which the union is founded, in particular the rule of law’, the court said.

Investigation into judges continues

Poland may have announced that it wants to regulate the supervision of judges differently, but it remains unclear how that will work. The disciplinary committee still has jurisdiction and the investigation launched against some judges appears to be continuing.

After the defeat at the European Court, the Polish government asked its own constitutional court to rule that Polish law sometimes takes precedence over EU law. Warsaw cannot hide behind that, says the vice president of the court in a first rebuttal to that ruling.

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