According to the European Union’s highest court, Poland must pay the steep daily charge for keeping a judges’ discipline chamber in the latest chapter of a conflict over the rule of law that has consequences for Warsaw’s future relations with the EU.
This year, the long-running dispute over Poland’s judicial reforms, which the EU believes weaken the independence of the courts, intensified, increasing concerns about Poland’s future membership in the union as Europe’s biggest eastern country.
“In the ruling issued today, the Vice-President of the Tribunal obliged Poland to pay…a penalty payment of EUR 1 million per day, counting from the date on which this ruling was delivered to Poland,” according to an ECJ statement.
Poland has promised to eliminate the Chamber as part of a more extensive set of changes, although no specific proposals have been released.
As a result of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal verdict against EU supremacy, experts fear that Warsaw would refuse to pay the punishment.
For the most part, the CJEU has called Poland’s bluff, according to Democracy Reporting International’s Jakub Jaraczewski in Politico.
“Will Warsaw proclaim that today’s judgement has no impact in Poland, after its Constitutional Tribunal verdict denying the primacy of EU law in Poland? The question is, “Will it stand firm, or will it flinch, ignoring its own servile constitutional court?”
The ECJ decision also did not seem to satisfy everyone in the EU.
One among those asking for stronger actions against Poland for its rule-of-law violations is Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.
Speaking at the College of Europe, Mr De Croo said of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, “To those who give incendiary interviews and think it’s necessary to declare a new world … you are playing a dangerous game.”
“You are playing with fire when waging war with our European colleagues for internal political reasons,” he said.
An appeal by Poland and Hungary against the EU executive seeks a ruling from The European Commission is waiting for the ECJ on the legitimacy of its rule of law mechanism.
De Croo, on the other hand, contended that the EU’s highest court should not be allowed to deal with the right-wing governments on its own.
This is a dispute that the Council should not leave to the European Court of Justice.
“We should avoid past mistakes,” he said.
“We left it to the ECB to clean up the sovereign debt crisis on its own.”
“This is a fundamental political problem that needs to be solved politically, by the Council and by the European Parliament.”
Poland has previously been penalised 500,000 euros a day by the ECJ for breaching a court order to stop activities at the Turow coal mine near the Czech border.
Poland has sworn to keep the mine open and has refused to pay the fines associated with it.
In response to a question about whether Poland would pay the new fee, a government official did not immediately react.
“The path of punishments and blackmail towards our country is not the right one,” according to spokesperson Piotr Muller, who stated on Twitter.
Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta was enraged by Wednesday’s ruling.
He blasted the European Court of Justice for how it treats Poland’s constitution and court rulings on Twitter.