On the rule of law, the European Union is stepping up the pressure on Poland

As tensions between Brussels and Warsaw on matters relating to the rule of law increase, the European Commission has opened a new front. On Tuesday, September 7, she announced that she had asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to impose financial sanctions on Poland – in the form of daily penalties – as long as the disciplinary chamber of the Polish Supreme Court continued to curb the independence of judges.

The Luxembourg Court had ordered the government of Mateusz Morawiecki, on July 14, to put an end to the activities of this institution, which can lift the immunity of judges or reduce their salaries. She had argued that she was not “Not immune to direct or indirect influences from the legislative and executive powers”. In a letter to the Commission on August 16, Warsaw had promised to replace the disciplinary chamber with a body “Completely different”, the contours of which must be specified in September.

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But Brussels considered this commitment insufficient. Especially since “The Polish authorities recently opened a disciplinary investigation against an ordinary court judge who applied the order of 14 July in a case pending before him”, proof that “The disciplinary chamber continues to function”, comments the Commission. In this context, the community executive decided to refer the matter to the CJEU, “After long internal debates”, says a senior official. Before recognizing: “It is very rare” that the Commission ask for daily penalties in this type of case.

Primacy of European law

“Under the pretext of applying the law, we are witnessing an aggression against Poland (…), a kind of legal hybrid war ”, Polish justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro tweeted on Tuesday. “The judicial systems of the European Union must be independent and fair”, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained. They must also recognize the primacy of European law over national law. Gold, ” the judicial system [polonais] prevents Polish courts from directly applying certain provisions of Community law on the independence of judges and from addressing requests for a preliminary ruling on these matters to the Court of Justice ”, notes the Commission.

Ursula von der Leyen hopes that Poland will give signs of goodwill soon. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for it to authorize the payment to Warsaw of the planned aid – 23.9 billion euros in subsidies, 12.1 billion in loans – as part of the European recovery plan of 750 billion euros. . Their perception is in fact subject to compliance by the member states with the recommendations issued by the European executive and, in the Polish case, the independence of the judiciary is one of them.

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