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Poland fined €1 million a day for ignoring judge order
European Union

Poland fined €1 million a day for ignoring judge order

27.10.2021 From our online archive
Decision by the EU's highest court on Wednesday represents a further escalation of row between the bloc and its biggest eastern member
The European Court of Justice in Kirchberg issued its ruling on Wednesday
The European Court of Justice in Kirchberg issued its ruling on Wednesday
Photo credit: Guy Jallay

Poland must pay a daily fine of €1 million for failing to obey an order to halt a controversial regime to discipline judges.

The European Union’s top court delivered the latest decision on Wednesday, further escalating a clash over the rule of law in the bloc’s biggest eastern member.  

“As it has not suspended the application of the provisions of national legislation” relating to jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, “Poland is ordered to pay the European Commission a daily penalty payment,” the Luxembourg-based court said.

The European Commission requested the penalties last month after Poland ignored the court’s July demands to “immediately suspend” its judicial discipline system - seen by critics as a way to silence judges who don’t support nation’s ruling Law and Justice party. 

In a separate case, the country has been ordered to pay a daily penalty of €50,000 for failing to obey an interim ECJ order to temporarily shut a coal mine close to its border with the Czech Republic. Polish miners descended on Luxembourg last week in protest at that ECJ decision.

The move toward fines is part of a series of rapidly escalating legal disputes that have rekindled a debate about Poland’s long-term political trajectory, delaying €23.9 billion in grants the country is set to receive from the EU’s pandemic recovery package. 

Poland’s nationalist government this month cemented into law a ruling that challenges the EU legal order by saying Polish law can override it. 

The fines come as Poland and Hungary pursue EU court challenges against a so-called conditionality mechanism established in January that allows the EU to withhold budget distributions to member states and which the two nations argue was adopted in violation of the bloc’s treaties.

The Luxembourg-based EU court’s July 14 order for Poland to halt the disciplinary regime was followed a day later by a binding ruling from the same tribunal telling the nation that the mechanism “could be used in order to exert political control over judicial decisions or to exert pressure on judges with a view to influencing their decisions.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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