Poland’s justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro has declared that the country won’t accept “unlawful penalties” over changes to its judicial system, rejecting a punishment handed down by the EU’s top court.
The comments were made at a press conference on Thursday, after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) earlier ruled that Poland must pay €1 million ($1.17 million) a day until it reverses certain judicial reforms, ensuring its judiciary is in line with “the legal order”The EU.
“In the case of a penalty for changes in the judicial system, Poland cannot and should not pay any zloty,”Ziobro added that “the Polish state cannot succumb to lawlessness.”
Poland has been defended in this row by Hungary. “The EU institutions’ aggressive stance is disproportionate and unjustified”Judit Varga from Hungary’s Justice Ministry said this in a Facebook post.
Poland had sparked anger from the EU over concerns that a disciplinary chamber of the country’s Supreme Court made EU laws subordinate to national law, leading European officials to warn it’s a “direct challenge to the unity”Of the bloc.
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A European leader has warned Poland that Poland will face punishment for challenging EU law primacy.
According to the Polish government, the reforms involving disciplining judges are not intended to create a division with the EU, or compromise the independence of the judiciary. Instead, it’s time for judicial abuse to be stopped.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen previously warned the country’s government that it could face a number of possible outcomes if Poland doesn’t undo the measures, ranging from fines to the withholding of EU funds or suspension of certain bloc membership rights. Reiterating this at a press conference on Thursday, von der Leyen warned Poland the EU’s next step would be to withhold funds until the member state agrees a “clear commitment to dismantle the disciplinary chamber.”
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