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Poland will be fined by the EU for disciplining judges

FILE PHOTO: People carry flags and signs, as they take part in a rally in support of Poland's membership in the European Union after the country's Constitutional Tribunal ruled on the primacy of the constitution over EU law, undermining a key tenet of European integration, in Warsaw, Poland, October 10, 2021. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

According to sources, the European Union executive is planning to demand that Poland pay fines of roughly 70 million euros ($80 million) for failing to abolish a disputed judicial discipline system.

The news: Separately, at a news conference on Tuesday, a spokesman for the European Commission acknowledged that the EU had received Poland’s latest explanation on the disagreement, which is one of the group’s many clashes with Warsaw over democratic standards.

  • “The EU has mechanisms in place to ensure Poland pays its appropriate penalty,” the official said.
  • The nationalist government in Poland had until Jan 11 to explain when and how it planned to dissolve the Disciplinary Chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court, which had been suspended by the top EU court.
FILE PHOTO: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives to attend a debate on Poland’s challenge to the supremacy of EU laws at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France October 19, 2021. Ronald Wittek/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

What’s going on: Warsaw has already refused to follow the European Court of Justice’s decision in Luxembourg, which imposed a daily fee of one million euros.

  • The letter was written in Polish, according to two sources at the Commission who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and the letter would need to be translated before the Commission could respond formally.
  • If it fails to satisfy the Commission, which is responsible for enforcing EU legislation, including those protecting the judiciary from political interference, one of the sources said it would issue an invoice to Warsaw with a 45-day payment deadline.
  • The penalties would be around 70 million euros by then, according to the second source, who also stated that the so-called “demand for payment” would be delivered to Warsaw very soon.

What happened: Last week, when questioned about the matter, a deputy Polish justice minister accused the EU of placing “illegal demands” on his country and stated that Warsaw would not succumb to “blackmail.”

  • In 2017, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party implemented a new policing system for judges as part of a sweeping overhaul of the judiciary that has been widely criticised for undermining the independence of courts and judges, which is a central principle of modern liberal democracies and Polish and EU laws alike.

($1 = 0.8819 euros)

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