Rule of law

ECJ hands Poland penalty payment of €1m a day

Cour de justice de l'Union européenne (CJUE) Patricia Pitsch - Maison Moderne

Cour de justice de l'Union européenne (CJUE) Patricia Pitsch - Maison Moderne

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has handed down a fine of €1m a day to Poland for its failure to suspend the application of national legislation by the disciplinary chamber of its supreme court.

The case dates back to 2019 when Poland passed a new law governing the judiciary that the European Commission considered had stripped the Polish judges of their independence and was “incompatible with the primacy of EU law”. Among other things, the law allowed the disciplinary chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court to take decisions which the Commissions claimed “have a direct impact on judges and the way they exercise their function.”

The European Court of Justice in July agreed that impartiality could not be guaranteed and asked Poland to suspend the disciplinary chamber. Its failure to comply led the Commission to request that ECJ levy financial penalties on Poland, and Wednesday’s decision on Kirchberg.

Needless to say, the fine has not gone down well in Poland, where deputy justice minister Sebastian Kaleta tweeted to say the ruling “completely ignores the Polish constitution” and that it was an attempt at “usurpation and blackmail”.