Poland has asked the EU to lift fines for its judicial reform, says minister

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland has officially asked the European Union to suspend the daily fine of one million euros imposed at the end of October 2021 by the Court of Justice of the EU over its judicial reforms, announced Friday the Polish Minister for European Affairs.

It was at the request of Brussels that the CJEU had pronounced this sanction – rare – against Warsaw for non-compliance with a judgment of July 2021 ordering in particular the immediate cessation of the activities of the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court. Polish.

Daily fines are deducted from community funds received by the targeted country.

The disputes between the European Union and the government of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, in power in Warsaw since 2015, are numerous in judicial matters.

The disciplinary chamber, since replaced by another body under pressure from the EU, was made up of members appointed by the ruling party, an attack, according to the CJEU, on the independence of justice and Union law .

However, European officials believe that the question of the independence of Polish judges is still not resolved.

“We have introduced a motion to suspend the penalties following the judgment of the CJEU on the disciplinary chamber,” said Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek on the Polsat News television channel.

The European Affairs Minister said the Polish request contained “strong arguments” about the adjustments made to the judicial system.

The European Commission in Brussels said it had already received a similar request from Poland last June.

“At the time, we felt that, while we had seen progress on some specific issues, not all obligations (…) had been fully taken into account in the new (Polish) law on (the) Supreme Court,” said Commission spokesman Christian Wigand.

Christian Wigand added that the Commission will now “carefully analyze” the request to see if Poland now fully complies with the CJEU rulings.

“Until this is done, Poland will continue to pay the fines imposed by the court,” he said.

The ultra-conservatives of the PiS have attacked the judicial system since 2017, attracting warnings and criticism from NGOs defending human rights and democracy, but also from the European Union and the United States.

The Polish executive asserts its impartiality and castigates European “centralism”.

(Report Alan Charlish, French version Sophie Louet and Alizée Degorce, edited by Jean-Stéphane Brosse and Kate Entringer)

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