The Court of Justice of the European Union has condemned the Polish government to pay a daily fine of €1 million (£850,000/$1.2 million) unless it scraps a disciplinary chamber for judges.
EU judges had ruled in July that the activities of the disciplinary chamber were contrary to EU law and demanded that Poland stop its activities. The conservative Polish government met the ruling with resistance, saying that the EU had no right to interfere in the Polish judicial system.
In September, the European Commission demanded a financial penalty be implemented against Poland for not scrapping the disciplinary chamber, a demand that the EU court granted on Wednesday, putting the penalty at €1 million per day, newspaper Le Figaro reports.
“Compliance with the precautionary measures ordered on July 14th, 2021, is necessary to avoid serious and irreparable damage to the legal order of the European Union and to the values in which this Union is, in particular, that of the rule of law,” the CJEU insisted in a statement.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the European Union last week that the chamber would be scrapped but has not so far given a timeline on when that would occur.
The daily fines are just the latest in the conflict between the European Union and Poland, supposedly over rule of law and judicial reforms, following the Slavic country’s refusal to implement EU migrant distribution quotas.
Poland’s deputy justice minister Sebastian Kaleta has previously criticised EU interference in Poland’s judicial system, saying the bloc had “no competence to interfere in the judicial system of Poland” and that attempts to interfere in domestic courts were a violation of the Polish constitution.
Earlier this month, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal agreed, ruling that where EU law and Polish the Polish constitution come into conflict, Poland’s constitution is the supreme law of Poland.
The ruling fuelled media speculation of a possible Polish exit from the European Union, or “Polexit”, but Polish political leaders have been firm on their desire to remain a part of the EU — albeit as a sovereign nation.
In an interview on Monday, Prime Minister Morawiecki increased the tensions with the EU, warning that if Brussels “starts the third world war” by halting funding earmarked for Poland, then the country would “defend our rights with any weapons which are at our disposal”.
“We feel that this is an already discriminatory and a diktat type of approach [from Brussels]. But if this is going to be even worse, we will have to think through our strategy,” Morawiecki added, accusing Brussels of having put “a gun to our head”.