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Polish gov't to 'analyze' documents on need to comply with EU court rulings: spokesman

21.07.2021 07:45
Poland's government will analyze documents from the European Commission regarding the need for compliance with EU court rulings, the government spokesman in Warsaw has said.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Mller.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller.Photo: PAP/Rafał Guz

Piotr Müller took to Twitter after Brussels on Tuesday threatened to fine Warsaw for disregarding a ruling by the EU’s top court that key judicial changes in Poland are incompatible with EU law.

"The Polish government will analyze the documents presented by the European Commission," Müller said in a tweet.

"Poland, like other EU countries, emphasizes the need to comply with the provisions of the EU treaties," he added. "They explicitly define what powers are delegated to the EU and which remain the exclusive competence of the member states."

Müller also said that "it is worth emphasizing that the legal solutions in force in Poland are similar to those existing in other EU countries."

"We will initiate proper dialogue with the European Commission, explaining the essence of the difference of opinion in this area," he also wrote.

The European Union's executive arm on Tuesday gave Poland until August 16 to comply with a ruling last week by the top EU court that Poland's system for disciplining judges broke EU law and should be suspended, Poland’s PAP news agency reported.

If Poland does not comply, the European Commission will ask the EU court to impose financial sanctions on Warsaw, the commission's Vice President Věra Jourová told a news conference.

"Poland needs to inform us about the measures foreseen to that effect by August 16, as requested by the court. Failing that, the Commission will request the European Court of Justice to impose a penalty payment on Poland," Jourová said on Tuesday.

''We will not hesitate to make use of our powers under the Treaties,'' the European Commission tweeted, announcing that Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders had "sent a letter to Poland, asking Poland to explain how it applies the interim measures and recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union to safeguard judicial independence."

"EU law has primacy over national law," the European Commission also said on Tuesday.

The Polish justice minister said last week that a ruling by the EU’s top court that a Polish system for disciplining judges contravenes the bloc's laws was "a political judgment" that "smacks of colonial thinking."

Zbigniew Ziobro told reporters the ruling had been handed down "at the behest of the European Commission," the EU's executive arm, amid a long-standing feud over alleged rule-of-law breaches between Brussels and Warsaw.

He also argued that the Polish system for appointing judges "is almost an exact copy of that existing in Spain, where EU authorities have found no threat to the independence of the judiciary."

Zbigniew Ziobro Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled last Thursday that Poland's system for disciplining judges undercut the bloc's laws, adding to an escalating battle over democratic rules.

The top EU court in April last year ordered Poland to immediately suspend the disciplinary chamber within its Supreme Court amid criticism that the panel could punish judges for decisions the country's ruling conservatives do not like.

Last Wednesday, Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruled that interim measures imposed by the EU’s top court on the Polish justice system were against the national constitution, adding to a protracted dispute over whether national law takes precedence over EU law.

Shortly before the Polish constitutional court announced its ruling, the deputy head of the top EU court again told Poland to immediately halt all activities of the disciplinary chamber.

Rule-of-law report

Separately on Tuesday, the European Commission listed serious concerns about the rule of law in Poland in a report that could help decide whether they receive billions of euros in EU funds to help recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Reuters news agency reported.

The commission had already raised many of the concerns in a report last year but they may now have real consequences as Brussels has made access to its EUR 800 billion recovery fund of grants and loans conditional on observing the rule of law, Reuters reported.

"The Commission may take into account the Rule of Law report ... when identifying and assessing breaches of the principles of the rule of law that affect the financial interests of the Union," the Commission said in a statement.

(gs)

Source: PAP, IAR, Reuters