Officials accused Warsaw of ignoring a binding court order in July to “immediately suspend” its punishment system for judges. Critics say the disciplinary chamber is a mechanism to silence judges who don’t support the country’s ruling Law and Justice party. Eurocrats said Poland had failed to respect a previous European Court of Justice decision over the activities of a judges’ disciplinary chamber.
The Polish government said last month that the chamber would be disbanded as part of a wider overhaul of the country’s judiciary.
But the EU’s Brussels-based executive ignored the announcement and today decided to take action.
EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said: “Today the Commission takes Poland to the EU Court.
“We are requesting financial penalties for non-respect of interim measures and asking for the full implementation of the judgement of July 15.
“It is my duty, as justice commissioner, to ensure the independence of European judges.”
In a statement, the Commission added: “The Commission is asking the Court to impose a daily penalty payment on Poland for as long as the measures imposed by the court’s order are not fully implemented.
“The Commission also decided to send a letter of formal notice… to Poland, for not taking the necessary measures to comply fully with the judgement of the Court of Justice.”
Poland was given an August 16 deadline to halt its controversial regime.
The move towards fines is part of a series of escalating legal and political disputes between the EU and Poland.
Brussels has already delayed £20.5 billion in grants Warsaw is set to receive from the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund for pandemic-stricken businesses and regions.
The EU fines could begin as a lump sum penalty, followed by daily payments until the law is adjusted.
The Commission has said it would leave the ECJ to set the amount of any fine.
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“These are acts of aggression. After the approval of the EU budget, the EU bodies launched an unlawful attack.”
The Luxembourg-based EU court on July 14 ruled that Poland must halt its regime for punishing judges.
The ECJ argued the disciplinary chamber “could be used in order to exert political control over judicial decisions or to exert pressure on judges with a view to influencing their decisions”.
Vera Jourova, the Commission’s vice-president in charge of values, said: “The rulings of the European Court of Justice must be respected across the EU.
“This is a must to build and nurture the necessary mutual trust between member states and citizens alike.”