EU court orders Poland to pay EUR 1 mln daily fine

The EU's top court has imposed a EUR 1 million daily fine on Poland for its failure to comply with the court's ruling to suspend a contested disciplinary panel for judges at the Supreme Court.

In a July ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered Poland to shut down the panel, saying that it lacked independence and could be used by the government to silence defiant judges but Poland, so far, has failed to comply.

"As it has not suspended the application of the provisions of national legislation relating, in particular, to the areas of jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, Poland is ordered to pay the European Commission a daily penalty payment in an amount of EUR 1,000,000," the CJEU wrote in its news release on Wednesday.

"Compliance with the interim measures ordered on 14 July 2021 is necessary in order to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the legal order of the European Union and to the values on which that Union is founded, in particular that of the rule of law," the CJEU added.

Poland's ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), has hinted it will amend regulations referring to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court but until now no legislation has been submitted to parliament.

Sebastian Kaleta, a Polish deputy justice minister, tweeted on Wednesday that "the CJEU totally ignores the Polish constitution and the Polish Constitutional Tribunal's rulings."

"It acts beyond its competence and abuses the institution of financial penalties and interim measures," Kaleta added, accusing the CJEU of trying to prevent Poland from shaping its own justice system and calling the EU court's actions "usurpation and blackmail."

Poland has already been told to pay EUR 500,000 for each day of non-compliance with another CJEU ruling, in which the court ordered the closure of the Turow open-cast lignite mine near the Czech border due to its environmental impact, starting from September 20. Poland has not paid any of the fines yet.