Presidential aide says EU penalties against Poland should be ended

Poland has fulfilled all EU requirements related to the country's disciplinary panel for judges and therefore Brussels should suspend financial penalties levelled against Warsaw for not complying with an EU court ruling, a presidential aid has claimed.

On October 27, 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) imposed a EUR 1-million daily fine on Poland for its failure to comply with its July 2021 ruling demanding the suspension of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.

Malgorzata Paprocka, a minister at the Presidential Office, told private television channel Polsat News on Tuesday that she found it hard to understand why the EU penalties were still being imposed on Poland "because all three elements connected to the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union - PAP) ruling have been fulfilled."

Paprocka was commenting on an interview with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, published by Poland's Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper on Tuesday.

In the interview, Von der Leyen said that Poland "still has not reinstated judges that were suspended (by the now-abolished Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court - PAP) and the daily financial penalty still applies."

The Disciplinary Chamber was recently abolished and replaced with a Chamber of Professional Responsibility. The EC president admitted the move was an important step, but added that the new law does not guarantee the possibility for judges to question the status of other judges without running the risk of facing disciplinary proceedings.

Paprocka said the EC president's words were "very surprising" and added that "it is difficult to agree with Von der Leyen's proposals."

"The issues related to the impartiality and independence of judges are (regulated), apart from EU law, by the Polish constitution," Paprocka said. According to her, only parties to court proceedings should have the right to question the impartiality and independence of judges, not their peers.

Poland has also been waiting for the release of some EUR 35 billion from the EU's post-pandemic recovery fund, which the EU says depends on Poland meeting key conditions agreed upon between Warsaw and Brussels.