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Justice minister accuses EU of 'stealing' millions from Poland in rule-of-law dispute

28.10.2022 21:30
Poland's justice minister has accused the European Commission of "stealing" millions from his country "under pressure from Germany" as part of a dispute over the rule of law.
Zbigniew Ziobro
Zbigniew ZiobroPAP/Marcin Obara

Zbigniew Ziobro said in a tweet on Friday: “The European Commission has just stolen EUR 30 million from us. Under pressure from Germany, persuaded by a German party in Poland. Ordnung muß sein.”

Ziobro took to Twitter after the European Union’s executive announced it had deducted EUR 30 million from funds allocated to Poland from the bloc’s budget, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

It was the seventh instalment of a fine imposed on Poland for failing to comply with a ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) that called for the country's disciplinary chamber for judges to be suspended, Polish private radio broadcaster RMF FM reported.

So far, Brussels has deducted EUR 267 million from EU funds allocated to Poland as part of the fine, according to RMF FM.

EU fines Poland over rule of law

In October last year, the Court of Justice of the EU fined Poland EUR 1 million a day to prevent “serious and irreparable harm” to the bloc’s legal order and values, officials said at the time.

Poland was told to change its rules for disciplining judges, which Brussels said undermined judicial independence.

The European Commission began to calculate the fines on November 3, 2021. The EUR 30 million deducted this week is for fines incurred by Poland between June 28 and July 27, 2022, and represents the seventh such deduction since November 3, 2021, RMF FM reported. 

On July 15, 2022, new regulations took effect in Poland under which a controversial disciplinary chamber within Poland’s Supreme Court was scrapped and replaced with a new Chamber of Professional Responsibility, the PAP news agency reported.

President Andrzej Duda, who initiated the change, said he had sought “to fix the functioning of Poland’s judicial system and give the government the means to end the rule-of-law dispute with the European Commission and unlock the EU’s pandemic relief funds for Poland."

Post-pandemic relief

Meanwhile, Poland’s negotiations with the European Commission are ongoing for the release of EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the EU's pandemic relief fund under Poland's National Recovery Plan, according to officials.

Brussels is demanding that Poland meet a series of rule-of-law “milestones” before these funds can be unlocked.    

The European Commission's chief, Ursula von der Leyen, has stated that Poland has not yet made enough progress to justify releasing a first instalment of pandemic relief funds, the PAP news agency reported.

Brussels is concerned that the Polish Supreme Court’s new Chamber of Professional Responsibility may be a “politically controlled" institution, according to news outlets. 

The EU's von der Leyen was quoted as saying in July that Poland “must fully comply with the CJEU's ruling, which hasn’t happened yet.”

She also said at the time that judges suspended as a result of changes made by the Polish government to the judiciary "haven’t been reinstated to their posts and the daily fine is still in place,” the PAP news agency reported. 


Source: PAP, dziennik.pl