Minister: Poland should not pay any of its EU court fines

·2 min read

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s justice minister said Thursday the European Union member should not pay any of the total $1.8 million daily fines the EU’s top court imposed for Warsaw’s ignoring its injunctions on changes to the judiciary and operation of a lignite mine.

Zbigniew Ziobro called the European Court of Justice injunctions lawless. Poland insists the court has no authority over its justice system and has been ignoring its rulings.

On Wednesday the court fined Poland $1.2 million a day to prevent what it called “serious and irreparable harm” to the EU’s legal order, chiefly by having a politically-influenced Supreme Court body for disciplining judges and by undermining judicial independence.

Last month, the court fined Poland $600,000 per day for failing to heed an injunction to close the Turow lignite mine, in a drawn-out dispute with neighboring Czech Republic.

“The Polish state cannot bow to lawlessness,” Ziobro told a news conference.

“Whether the illegal penalties regarding Turow ... or the penalty for changes to the judiciary, Poland cannot and should not pay a single zloty, (local currency)," said Ziobro who is the author of the changes to Poland's justice system.

The EU is warning it can suspend payment of pandemic recovery funds to Poland unless the disciplinary body is abolished, but Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday expressed hope for a compromise.

She said strict conditions for payment of the funds to Poland will include closing of the Disciplinary Chamber and changes to the way the judges are disciplined, as well as reinstalling some of the suspended judges.

“I think it is doable, I hope that we will reach an agreement, “ von der Leyen said. ”But the reform part is conditio sine qua non.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Thursday the government will work out a compromise, but said it will take months. He told the European Parliament last week the Disciplinary Chamber will be abolished, but gave no timeframe, and also indicated some other body will take its place. It was not clear whether the replacement would be more in line with the EU's values.

The Associated Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting