Poland-EU rule of law dispute enters new and potentially game-changing stage

The long-running legal dispute between the European Commission and the Polish government has entered a new phase and, according to most observers, a stage of game change.

The Commission on Tuesday asked the European Court of Justice (CJEU) to impose sanctions on Warsaw for failing to comply with court rulings from July – and to point out that the financial side, for the first time, has openly entered the game. .

At the same time, the Commission also decided to send a letter of formal information to Poland in accordance with Article 260 (2) TFEU, because the liability under the contract was not fulfilled, in this case entirely in accordance with the court decision of Polish law. sees action. on the disciplinary regime against judges is not compatible with EU law.

Manfred Weber, leader of the European Parliament’s largest political group, the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), commented on Wednesday’s decisions, saying, “It’s a sad day for Poland, but it can’t be because the Polish government continues to reject the rulings of the European Court of Justice. “

“The rule of law is not a political tool, it is a basic principle that all members of the European Union must respect. Without the rule of law there can be no European Union.”

Polish S&D MP Marek Belka – Professor of Economics and former Polish Minister of Finance – told Parliament Magazine, “Unfortunately, the imposition of sanctions for ignoring ECJ decisions seems to be the only language the Government of Law and Justice (PiS) respects. understands it. the rule of law. “

“Unfortunately, the imposition of penalties for disregarding ECJ rulings seems to be the only language that the Government of Justice (PiS) understands when it respects the rule of law.” Polish S&D MP Marek Belka

He added: “Still, I do not believe that PiS leader Jarosław Kaczynski is aware of the gravity of the situation. The disciplinary chamber of the High Court should be removed. In this regard, the Commission has the full support of the majority of the European Parliament.”

Many law professors, experts and practitioners also welcomed the decision. Marlene Wind, professor and director of the Center for European Politics (CEP) at the University of Copenhagen, tweeted on Thursday: “for the sovereignty of the European Union. Good!”

The Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL), an association of European judges and prosecutors, said in a statement: “Consider the need to protect and respect the rule of law in all its aspects.”

Professor Laurent Pech, Head of the Department of Law and Politics at Middlesex University, said in a particularly poignant statement by Commissioner Didier Reynders in an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday with the President of the European Union, “I must say we are at the end of the dialogue said about it with Poland. “

Pech commented, “said, finally. It has been almost six years since repeated / deliberate violations of Polish and European law were initiated to ensure the commencement of meaningful legal action by the European Union in relation to financial transactions.”

Jakub Jaraczewski, research co-ordinator of the Rule of Law in Berlin-Democracy Reporting International, commented on Reynders’ remarks, saying, “One can say that this dialogue was dead before it started, because the Polish authorities did not seem to be involved. “It simply came to our notice then.

“This is the right way to put words into practice. Justice must not be done unfairly. There must be no exception to this and of course if the cornerstone of our European Union, the Rule of Law, is to be violated. “ Vice-Chair of the European Parliament (LIBE) Committee on Legal Affairs, Marion Walsmann, Vice-Chair of the German EPP Group

“Only now that financial pressure is in place do we expect to see some change.”

Many European parliamentarians approved. “Reynders places great value on the Polish disciplinary chamber. That’s right! You can not violate the rule of law and continue to fund the European Union,” said Daniel Freund, deputy director of the Green Group / EFA from Parliament’s Budget Control Committee (CONT).

But some observers have suggested that the daily fines imposed on Poland – which have not yet been imposed by the CJEU but are generally estimated at between one and five million euros a day – will not cause serious harm to the Polish government.

Thu Nguyen, a policy associate at the Berlin-based think tank Jacques Delors, tweeted that “if Poland refuses to comply with the ECJ ruling for a year, the fine will be € 365 million” – if fined . € 1 million per day – “a portion of € 23.9 billion to be played under the RRF”.

However, RRF funding for Poland is still “analyzed” by the Commission and, more recently, several members of the College have made it very clear that its cleansing will be linked to the development of the Rule of Law debate.

Marion Walsmann, Vice-Chair of the German EPP Group, JURI, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, told Parliamentary Magazine, “We urge that the approval of EU funds be linked to respect for European fundamental values. “I’m very pleased that the Commission has not yet provided RFF funding to Poland.”

“This is the right way to put words into practice. Justice must not be done unjustly. There must be no exception to this and of course if the cornerstone of our European Union, the Rule of Law, is to be violated. “

“The British have established that the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy is not right for them and has turned around. We do not want to go out, but we can not pursue anything that will limit our freedom and something that will limit our organic development.” Deputy Speaker of the Polish Parliament (Sejm), Ryszard Terlecki

The reactions of the Polish government and its representatives in the Sejm, the Polish Parliament have so far shown some valuable signs of reconciliation.

As the Financial Times reported that Michal Dworczyk, the prime minister of Mateusz Morawiecki, said on Wednesday that “understandings” between Warsaw and Brussels could lead to the Commission’s move, the English-Polish website reported on Thursday that he was more militant. response of the Vice President of the Sejm, Ryszard Terlecki.

Speaking at the annual Economic Forum in Karpacz, Lower Silesia, Terlecki said, “If that seems to be the case, then we need to look for tough solutions.”

“The British decided that the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy was not right for them and turned around. We do not want to leave, but we can not pursue anything that will limit our freedom and something that will limit our organic development.

The first major date to emerge in this saga will be new and announced by the government, the session of the Polish Constitutional Court on the jurisdiction of the European Union on 22 September.

If the Polish Constitutional Court upholds the European Union’s judicial precedent, then for the majority of European parliamentarians in the European Parliament, it will, according to JURI vice-president Walsmann, “break the neck of the camel’s back.”