The European Court on Wednesday imposed a fine on Poland – a daily payment of 1 million euros for non-compliance with EU legislation. This money will go to the European Commission.
“By an order of the European Court, Poland is ordered to pay a daily fine of 1 million euros for refusing to suspend the operation of national legislation, which, in particular, concerns the jurisdiction of the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court,” it says in a document of the European Court of Justice.
The sanction against the Polish authorities was imposed “in order to avoid serious and irreparable damage to the legal order of the European Union, as well as to the values on which it is based, including the rule of law.”
The Constitutional Court of Poland, whose task is to check the compliance of other regulations with the country’s Constitution, earlier in October ruled that a number of EU laws and some European judicial decisions contradict the country’s Basic Law. The judges announced that Poland’s membership in the European Union, in their opinion, does not give the EU authorities supremacy in the judiciary and does not mean the transfer of Poland’s sovereignty. The decision of the Constitutional Court was supported by 12 out of 14 judges.
The court’s ruling runs counter to the EU’s rule of law, which is being insisted on in Brussels. This principle means that the legal norms of the EU countries in a number of areas should not be applied if they contradict the norms of European law. The European Union also does not consider the Polish Constitutional Court to be legitimate due to the influence of the ruling Law and Justice party on the appointment of judges to this body. noted Interfax.
On February 14, 2020, a law on the judicial system entered into force in Poland, which, inter alia, “prohibits Polish courts, including through disciplinary proceedings, from directly applying certain provisions of EU law protecting judicial independence”.
According to the European Commission, the Polish law “undermines the independence of Polish judges and is incompatible with the EU’s principles of the rule of law.”
The European Commission also believes that Poland is in violation of EU law by allowing the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, whose independence is not guaranteed, to make decisions that have a direct impact on judges and how they perform their functions. These issues include the lifting of immunity of judges with a view to prosecution or detention, as well as the subsequent suspension and reduction of their salaries.
The EC believes that the very prospect for judges to appear before a court before a body whose independence is not guaranteed creates a “deterrent effect” for judges and may affect their own independence, wrote agency Swissinfo.ch. “The Commission believes that this seriously undermines the independence of the judiciary and the obligation to provide effective legal protection, and hence the legal order of the EU as a whole,” said in Brussels.
This month, former President of the EU Council, ex-Prime Minister of Poland and leader of the Polish opposition, Donald Tusk, called on fellow citizens to oppose the court’s decision on the priority of Polish law over EU law. “We have to save Poland, no one will do it for us,” he said. Protest actions passed in several cities of Poland, thousands of people took part in them.