Rule of law: Poland hit by the wallet by the European Court of Justice

Between the European institutions and the Polish national-conservative government, the war of words now follows the shock of sanctions. At the request of the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided to apply, in a judgment delivered on Wednesday, October 27, a fine of one million euros per day against Warsaw, as long as the government has not complied with a judgment rendered by this same Court on July 14.

This stipulated that the majority of the PiS (Law and Justice) should “Suspend immediately” the functioning of the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court, one of the key elements of its controversial “reforms” of justice, perceived by the magistrates as an instrument of political control. Despite multiple announcements of its abolition, the functioning of this chamber has only been partially suspended. “The implementation of the provisional measures decided on July 14 is essential to avoid serious and irreversible damage to the European legal order and to the values ​​on which the Union is based”, the CJEU justified itself.

This judgment comes in a context where tensions between Warsaw and Brussels have intensified deeply in recent weeks, since the political earthquake caused, on October 7, by the judgment of the Polish Constitutional Court, an institution different from the Supreme Judicial Court and narrowly controlled by the authorities, which called into question the primacy of European law over national law. Trying to justify this decision before the European Parliament, Tuesday, October 19, the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, found himself for nearly four hours under the fire of virulent criticism from MEPs and engaged in tense exchanges with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

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“Third World War”

Poland, however, avoided open remonstrances at the European Council of 21 and 22 October because Germany, and to a lesser extent France, wanted to smooth things over and favor the option of dialogue. The European Commission nonetheless made Warsaw understand that it was blocking at this stage the funds of the post-Covid-19 European recovery plan owed to Poland – nearly 36 billion euros – as long as its key assumptions in terms of respect for the rule of law will not be respected.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, confronted the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki (background, number 23), at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, on October 19, 2021.
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In response, Mr. Morawiecki decided to play the rhetorical one-upmanship. In an interview given on Monday, October 25 to Financial Times, the Polish head of government accused the European Commission of financial blackmail and “To put a pistol on the temple of Poland”. “What will happen if the European Commission starts World War III? If this is the case, we will defend our rights with all the weapons at our disposal ”, he blasted, threatening in particular to brandish a veto on the next European climate package. “We’ll have this money sooner or later, he added. The later we have it, the more it will be the proof that there is a discrimination of treatment and an approach in the form of diktats on the part of the European Commission. “

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Rule of law: Poland hit by the wallet by the European Court of Justice