Dispute over judicial reform: Poland does not want to pay a fine

Status: 10/28/2021 7:19 p.m.

The ECJ has ordered Poland to pay a fine in the millions because of the judicial reform. But Justice Minister Ziobro is not thinking of doing this. Not a single zloty will flow into Brussels, he said.

Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has refused to pay the penalty payments ordered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). “Poland cannot and should not pay just a single zloty,” he said in Warsaw. The Polish state should not “submit to lawlessness”.

The European Court of Justice acted “illegally”. The European treaties do not allow the judges in Luxembourg to intervene in the judiciary of the individual states, Justice Minister Ziobro underlined his refusal.

The prime minister is more moderate

Ziobro was the first ministerial government official to speak out in favor of a refusal to pay. Previously, one of his deputies had also recommended “ignoring” the Luxembourg penalty order and also proposed freezing Polish membership fees to the EU until the “Eurocrats came to their senses”.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who is seen as an opponent of the Justice Minister within the government faction, made a speech about the older promise to dissolve the controversial disciplinary body. Work on this is in progress. But it could still be months before a compromise was found within the government faction.

One million euros a day

On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice ordered Warsaw to pay the EU Commission one million euros per day because Poland has not yet implemented the ECJ ruling on the controversial disciplinary body for judges.

The Polish body can prosecute and suspend judges. According to ECJ rulings, this is not compatible with EU rules on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. In July the EU judges ordered the temporary dissolution of the chamber, but it is still working.

The EU Commission and Poland have been arguing for a long time about compliance with the rule of law principles that are binding for EU countries. Poland has been accused of disregarding them since the national conservative government initiated the restructuring of the Polish judiciary. The dispute escalated further when the Polish Constitutional Court ruled in early October that EU law did not take precedence over national law.

Further penance for Turow opencast mine

On September 20, the ECJ had already imposed a penalty on Poland. Warsaw has to pay a daily fine of 500,000 euros because of the Turow opencast mine, the judges ruled at the time. Despite an interim ECJ order from May, the government did not stop lignite mining in the border region with the Czech Republic.

With information from Jan Pallokat, ARD Studio Warsaw


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