Sunday, December 5

Polish government risks fines for disobeying a European court order | Poland

Poland’s nationalist government risks daily fines for disobeying a European court order, after EU authorities in Brussels urged financial sanctions for what are seen as threats to judicial independence.

The European Commission asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) to impose daily fines on the Polish government “to ensure compliance”, in a move hailed as a watershed moment in the fight for the rule of law in the Central European country.

He said the Polish government had failed to comply with a court order to reform a disciplinary court for judges that was seen as compromising judicial independence.

Following a fast-track complaint, the European court ordered Poland on July 14 to suspend much of its disciplinary system for judges, including powers to sanction judges for their rulings, an agreement that is said to undermine Their independence. In mid-August, Poland promised to dissolve the chamber, but the commission said it was still working.

“The disciplinary chamber continues with some of its activities against the judges, although all those activities were supposed to be completely suspended,” said Vice President of the European Commission, Věra Jourová. “The rulings of the European court of justice must be respected throughout the EU. This is essential to build and cultivate the necessary trust between member states and citizens alike ”.

He added that the commission remains “ready to work with the Polish authorities to find solutions.”

The commission has not proposed an amount for the fines, which are intended to discourage the government from changing course as quickly as possible. In a similar case in 2017, the Polish government was threatened with fines of 100,000 euros a day for illegal logging of the former Białowieża forest.

In a separate decision, the commission announced that it was taking legal action against Poland for failing to comply with the ECJ’s decision.

Critics of the EU approach said the commission was taking belated tough measures to uphold the rule of law.

“This is a watershed moment,” said Jakub Jaraczewski, an analyst with the non-governmental organization Democracy Reporting International. “Faced with the crisis of the rule of law in Poland, the European Commission was considered not sufficiently decisive and strong.”

“The commission is finally stepping up its game and showing some sharp teeth, and it is doing so at a very fortunate time, when Poland is looking for all the money it can get to jump-start the economy after the pandemic slowdown.”

EU authorities have delayed approval of Covid recovery funds for Poland and Hungary due to concerns about weak systems to control EU funds.

Poland has been on a collision course with the EU since the nationalist Law and Justice party came to power in 2015 and pushed for massive changes in the judicial system. Warsaw is fighting Brussels on a variety of fronts, including LGBTQ + rights, but the current dispute dates back to April 2020, when the commission took action against further changes to the judicial system that are seen to undermine judicial independence.

The Polish government has rejected the charges, most recently in a defiant Facebook post by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. “No one will teach us what democracy and the rule of law are because Poland has a very long and noble history of fighting all kinds of totalitarianism and despots,” he wrote.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *