The first major community blow to the Polish challenge to the country’s judicial independence. The European Justice has imposed this Wednesday a fine of one million euros a day while Warsaw does not comply with the precautionary measures of the EU court, which demanded the withdrawal of the judicial reform that created a Disciplinary Chamber in Poland that limited judicial independence.
“As it has not suspended the application of the provisions of the national legislation relating to the areas of competence of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, Poland is condemned to pay the European Commission a daily fine of 1,000,000 euros,” says the Court of Justice of the EU: “Compliance with the precautionary measures ordered on July 14, 2021 is necessary to avoid serious and irreparable damage to the legal system of the European Union and the values on which said Union is based, in particular that of the rule of law “.
Poland and the rest of the European Union are in the midst of great tension over the ruling of the Polish Constitutional Court at the beginning of October, which denied the preeminence of some parts of the EU Treaties over Polish laws, which came to place the country outside the EU legal system.
The decision of the court based in Luxembourg this Wednesday responds to the request of the European Commission in early September to request the Court of Justice that the EU impose economic sanctions on Poland to ensure compliance with the order of precautionary measures of the Court on the functioning of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court of Poland and the suspension of other provisions of Polish law affecting judicial independence.
The European Commission considers that “Poland has reported on the intention to dismantle the Disciplinary Chamber in its current form, but without providing further details. For example, the president of the Disciplinary Chamber continued to appoint disciplinary courts of first instance to hear cases of ordinary court judges “.
On July 14, 2021, the Court of Justice imposed precautionary measures on Poland, which it has not complied with and hence the fine this Wednesday, related to the operation of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court of Poland, acceding to the request of the European Commission on all points.
The Court ordered Poland to suspend the provisions by which the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court can rule on requests to lift judicial immunity, as well as in matters of employment, social security and retirement of Supreme Court judges; suspend the effects of the decisions already adopted by the Disciplinary Chamber on the lifting of judicial immunity; and suspending the provisions that prevent Polish judges from directly applying EU law protecting judicial independence and referring preliminary decisions on such matters to the Court of Justice.
Calm at the summit
The main EU countries bet at the summit last week for the dialogue with Warsaw, although they have reminded the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, that the tools are available to freeze 106,000 million for violating the rule of law, something for the one that the European Parliament is taking the Commission to court.
“The Member States support the dialogue and also ask to use the existing mechanisms provided for by the treaties, as well as the existing texts,” explained diplomatic sources: “The debate has revealed that the members of the European Council are convinced that the rule of law and The independence of the judiciary is absolutely fundamental. The legal and institutional instruments have already been activated and could still be activated. The debate took place in a serene atmosphere, and it was the occasion to identify the exact difficulties and better understand the different points of view President Michel appreciated the constructive approach: rhetoric and mutual respect can facilitate or complicate solutions, and the president concluded that dialogue must continue to find solutions. Tonight’s debate is a step that should help find solutions. ” .
Germany and France fear that the pressure could lead Poland to respond by blocking EU decisions, as well as weaken Polish Europeanism. In addition, all those present have in mind the conflictive past between Warsaw and Berlin, as well as the consequences that the detachment of the Eastern countries with the EU can have in geopolitical terms, given their proximity to Russia.
In fact, countries traditionally hard on the rule of law, such as the Benelux, have not expressed the harshness that they did show in June with the homophobic drift of Hungary, for example, which shows that the Polish weight is higher, particularly in the fights for the common agrarian policy, which also affects Spain, a country that has also called for dialogue, although no one has asked to discard the toughest measures.