Top EU court fines Poland $1.2M a day in row over bloc law

EU Commission last month asked European Court of Justice to fine Poland over judicial reforms.

Top EU court fines Poland $1.2M a day in row over bloc law

Escalating a row between the EU and Warsaw, the European Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered a fine on Poland of €1 million ($1.2 million) a day for ignoring a ruling on the country’s judicial reforms.

The court said in a press release that the decision was "necessary in order to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the legal order of the European Union and to the values on which that Union is founded, in particular that of the rule of law."

This July, the court ruled that Poland should suspend the disciplinary chamber of its Supreme Court, as it failed to guarantee impartiality.

On Sept. 7, the European Commission requested "financial penalties" for Poland for failing to comply with the July ruling.

Poland sought annulment of the July order but this bid was dismissed by the court earlier this month.

The court ordered Poland “to pay the Commission a periodic penalty payment of €1 000 000 euros per day, from the date on which that order is notified to Poland and until such time as that Member State complies with the obligations arising from the order of 14 July 2021 or, if it fails to do so, until the date of delivery of the final judgment.”

On Twitter, Sebastian Kaleta, Poland's deputy justice minister, blasted the ruling as “usurpation and blackmail.”

Tension between EU, Poland

The EU and Poland have recently been at loggerheads on issues such as judicial independence, the rule of law, and whether national laws are above EU law.

Apart from Poland's disciplinary mechanism for judges, a Polish Constitutional Court ruling that "national law takes precedence over EU law in some areas" also stirred controversy. While Warsaw defended the decision, EU institutions say EU law is superior to national law.

At last week’s EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki insisted that his country has no problems with the rule of law, but other leaders expressed their concerns.

"The core question is the independence of the judiciary in Poland," Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, told reporters at the meeting.

She added that the EU's ongoing row with Poland on the rule of law "has taken a new dimension" with the recent Polish Constitutional Court ruling questioning the primacy of EU law.