EU justice commissioner says Poland must abide by CJEU rulings

Despite the dispute, Reynders expressed his conviction that Poland wished to remain in the EU and that the situation was different to that of the UK. OLIVIER HOSLET

EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said on Thursday that Poland complying with rulings of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) is the only way out of conflict between Warsaw and Brussels.

Speaking on the private TVN24 TV channel, Reynders said the European Commission (EC) had applied for financial sanctions to be applied to Poland only to make it comply with the CJEU's rulings.

He said if Poland did not comply it would be fined, and if it did not pay the fines, the EC would take the money, adding that it had both the wherewithal and the duty to collect payment.

While it was normal to disagree with the Commission, he said that the discussion was over when the court issued a decision.

Despite the dispute, Reynders expressed his conviction that Poland wished to remain in the EU and that the situation was different to that of the UK.

Reynders was on a two-day visit to Warsaw. On Thursday he held talks with Senate Speaker Tomasz Gdrodzki, Minister for EU Affairs Konrad Szymanski, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and the Sejm (lower house) committees for justice and EU affairs as well as with the head of the Supreme Audit Office, Marian Banas.

In July, the CJEU ordered Poland to immediately suspend the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court owing to it lacking sufficient independence from the government. On September 7, the EC applied to the CJEU to impose financial penalties on Poland for not abiding by the ruling.

In late October, the CJEU announced that Poland would have to pay the EC EUR 1 million a day for its failure to suspend the Disciplinary Chamber. Earlier, in September, the same court ruled that Poland must pay EUR 500,000 a day for failure to halt mining at the Turow open-cast lignite mine, the subject of an environmental complaint by the Czech Republic.

At the start of the week, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro filed a motion with Poland's Constitutional Tribunal questioning the legal basis for the CJEU's fines.