Controversial judicial reform: EU applies for a fine against Poland

Status: 07.09.2021 12:46 p.m.

The EU Commission has applied to the European Court of Justice for financial sanctions against Poland. The reason is the dispute over the controversial judicial reform. Warsaw is to be persuaded to comply with EU law with fines.

With an application for financial sanctions against Poland, the EU Commission has tightened its action against the country’s controversial judicial reforms. The background is the further activity of the disciplinary body to punish judges, as the Brussels authority announced. “The judicial systems in the European Union must be independent and fair,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) now has to decide on the application.

The EU Commission had previously given Poland an ultimatum until mid-August. In mid-July, the ECJ ruled that Poland’s disciplinary body was in violation of European law. The highest European judges found that the chamber of the country’s highest court established in 2018 does not offer all guarantees of independence and impartiality.

Disciplinary Chamber continues to process cases

The controversial body is responsible for disciplinary proceedings against Polish judges and can also suspend them. The right-wing nationalist ruling party PiS pretends to act against corruption and other misconduct. With an interim order, the ECJ had already asked Poland to suspend the provisions with which the disciplinary body is empowered to rule on applications for the waiver of judicial immunity and on issues relating to the employment and retirement of judges. The decision also affected other provisions of Polish law relating to the independence of judges.

Poland then announced that the controversial disciplinary body in its current form would be abolished. She is currently still working on old cases.

Six-digit penalty payments are possible

Theoretically, the financial sanctions could amount to a six-figure daily fine.

In another case, the ECJ had threatened Poland with a fine of at least 100,000 euros per day in 2017. At that time, the court ordered Poland to stop the deforestation of the protected Białowieża virgin forest.

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