EC seeks fines on Poland on EU justice grounds
The European Commission (EC) has taken two separate decisions against the Polish authorities for undermining the functioning of the Polish justice system, it said September 8. One is a request that the Court of Justice fine Poland on a daily basis for violation of EU norms.
In April 2020, the EC launched an infringement procedure against a Polish law of the previous December which amended a series of legislative acts governing the functioning of the justice system in Poland. This included the creation of the supreme court's disciplinary chamber.
Second, the EC also sent Warsaw a letter of formal notice under Article 260(2) of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU for not taking the necessary measures to comply fully with the judgment of the Court of Justice of July 15. which found that Polish law on the disciplinary regime against judges is not compatible with EU law.
The case is of interest as Poland has been quick to use the European judicial system against the European Commission in order to damage Gazprom's gas export business with respect to Opal pipeline capacity. It successfully invoked the notion of 'EU solidarity'. And it is seeking to prevent the certification of the NordStream 2 operator as an entity independent of Gazprom – independent transmission system operators are EU legal constructs allowed under the Third Energy Package that are spared unbundling.
The EC said it "would not hesitate to take all the necessary measures to ensure the full application of EU law. In July, the Court of Justice rendered two key rulings to protect judicial independence in Poland. It is essential that Poland fully complies with these rulings."
If the EC finds that the Polish reply to the formal notice is not satisfactory as a next step, it said it may bring the case, once more, before the Court of Justice.
The president of the EC Ursula von der Leyen said: “Justice systems across the European Union must be independent and fair. The rights of EU citizens must be guaranteed in the same way, wherever they live in the European Union.”