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English Section

EU says Poland owes EUR 160 mln in fines over rule of law

04.05.2022 07:00
The European Union’s executive has announced that Poland’s fines in a rule-of-law dispute with Brussels have exceeded EUR 160 million.
Joachim Brudziński.
Joachim Brudziński.PAP/Marcin Bielecki

The announcement came at a session of the European Parliament on the rule of law in Poland and Hungary on Tuesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Last year, 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.

The EU imposed the fine until Warsaw changes its rules for disciplining judges, which according to Brussels undermine judicial independence.

EU fines for Poland surpass EUR 160 mln

Speaking in the European Parliament on Tuesday, the EU’s Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “We are now with a total amount of more than 160 million euros of such a fine until a possible positive evolution in Poland."

Reynders added that Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has in recent months made “a certain number of rulings … which questioned the foundations of the Union’s legal order.”

At the same time, “over the past few weeks we’ve seen a number of legislative developments concerning amendments to Polish law, aiming to modify the disciplinary regime for judges in Poland,” Reynders said.

He was referring to President Andrzej Duda’s bill to revamp the Supreme Court, the PAP news agency reported. 

Reynders hailed the bill as “a positive step,” adding: “What will eventually matter is the extent to which the legislation, as finally adopted by the Polish parliament … will address the requirements set out by the Court of Justice [of the EU] in its ruling of 14 and 15 July last year.”

‘Poland is the talk of the free world’: Polish MEP

During a debate that followed, Joachim Brudziński, an MEP with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, said that Russia continued to ravage Ukraine, with “more than a million Ukrainians abducted and sent to Russia, often to Siberia.”

He added: “And what is the response from you, European politicians? You have the audacity to lecture the Polish government.”

Brudziński continued: “Your Green Deal is to be based on Russian gas. Your leaders are asking your firms not to stop business in Russia, because you’re dreaming of dirty, blood-stained roubles that you want to exchange for supposedly clean euros.”

He also said: “You will not wipe out this stain on your honour. History won’t forget what you are doing. You can try to upbraid Polish people all you like, but it is our country that is the talk of the whole free world today."

'Russian disinformation,' 'Brazilian soap opera'

Brudziński quoted the ex-US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, who said in March that when it came to the rule of law in Poland, “much of what reached the West was the result of Russian disinformation."

Brudziński later told reporters that the EU’s dispute with Poland and Hungary over the rule of law was beginning to resemble “a Brazilian soap opera,” adding that “all these debates about Poland no longer hold any interest even for those who initiate them.”

'Another absurd debate'

Fellow Law and Justice MEP Adam Bielan criticised “another absurd debate,” adding it was “particularly perfidious” to hold it on Poland’s Constitution Day, the PAP news agency reported.   

A resolution on the rule of law in Hungary in Poland will be put to a vote by European lawmakers on Thursday, reporters were told.

Wednesday is day 70 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Poland on Wednesday reported it had welcomed around 3.14 million refugees fleeing Russia's war on Ukraine.

(pm/gs)

Sources: PAP, abcnews.commultimedia.europarl.europa.eu