Tag Archives: Poland

EU €70m fine to Poland

The European Commission has sent Poland notice to pay some 70 million euros in fines for failing to reverse an illegal disciplinary regime for judges, a spokesman said, an escalation in a row between Warsaw and the European Union.

The case is one of many disputes between the EU and Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in 2015 and has since faced accusations of eroding democratic freedoms.

Last October the top EU court fined Warsaw for failing to immediately halt the work of the Polish Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Chamber pending a final verdict on the scheme.

The European Union is set to demand that Poland pay around €70 million of fines in the coming weeks for failing to scrap a contentious system for disciplining judges according to Brussels think-tank experts.

The dispute is one of many battles pitting Poland against the EU, which accuses the nationalist government in Warsaw of backsliding on democratic standards, including the independence of the judiciary. Warsaw denies the charge.

“I regret that the situation of the rule of law in Poland shows no signs of improvement and judges continue to be under pressure. We will continue to do our duty to defend the rule of law and judicial independence,” said Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency.

Separately, a spokesman for the Commission told reporters that the Brussels-based executive had received Poland’s latest explanation in the dispute, adding: “The EU has ways to ensure payment of fines due from Poland.”

January 11 was the deadline for Warsaw to tell the Commission when and how it would dismantle the Disciplinary Chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court, which the EU’s top EU court had ordered suspended, or pay fines worth €1 million a day.

Should Poland’s response fail to satisfy the Commission, which enforces European law, a source in the EU executive said it would send an invoice to Warsaw, with a 45-day deadline to pay.

By then, the fine would amount to some €70 million, said a second Commission source, adding that the call for payment would be sent to Warsaw “very soon”.

Asked about the case, a deputy Polish justice minister last week accused the EU of making “illegal demands” and said Warsaw would not give in to “blackmail”.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party introduced the new policing system for judges in 2017 amid a sweeping overhaul of the judiciary widely denounced as undermining the independence of courts and judges.

The Polish judges’ association Iustitia, which accuses PiS of degrading the courts, said the Disciplinary Chamber had suspended six judges so far for challenging government policies, and that two more were awaiting a decision.

Of the six, two have been suspended for more than one year, their cases reassigned to other judges or started from scratch, including one for the murder of a child, Iustitia said.

Iustitia said more than 1,000 judges have been nominated since PiS party changed the law to allow judges to be appointed by government officials instead by other judges to staff judicial panels.

In case Poland continues to refuse to pay for failing to obey the order of the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) – the decisions of which are binding for all member states – the Commission would eventually deduct the total due from EU funds earmarked for Warsaw.

However, the timetable is unclear while the other EU countries have so far either implemented measures prescribed by the European Court of Justice or paid promptly on their own for failing to do so.

A lack of precedent or detailed EU rules allows procedural delays and political disputes over the issue, which has already harmed Poland’s reputation with the EU.

“I regret that the situation of the rule of law in Poland shows no signs of improvement and judges continue to be under pressure. We will continue to do our duty to defend the rule of law and judicial independence,” said Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency.

EU diplomacy focus on Belarus

Brussels 15.11.2021 “First, we are going to have the Foreign Affairs Council. After [this] we are going to have the meeting with the Ministers of the Eastern Partnership. And after this, we will have the Jumbo meeting with Foreign and Defense Ministers to start talking about the Strategic Compass” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at doorstep of the meeting of the ministers in Brussels.(Image: Europa building, archive)

“On the Foreign Affairs Ministers Council: we are going to review the whole set of problems starting certainly with the situation in Belarus. Yesterday, I had phone calls with my Polish [Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau], Lithuanian [Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabrielius Landsbergis] and Belarusian Minister [Vladimir Makei] also with the Secretary General of the United Nations [António Guterres] in order to prepare the meeting. We had the opportunity to share with the Secretary General of the United Nations how things are going on the ground. I talked to the Belarussian Minister to tell him that the situation was totally unacceptable that humanitarian help has to be provided. And that we have to think about how we can solve the problem starting by stopping the [migration] flow. Stopping the flights. This is almost done.

“During these days we have been talking with countries of origin and transit. My colleague [Vice-President Margaritis] Schinas is in Bagdad. And I think that from my point of view, the inflow of things are becoming under control. But we have to provide humanitarian assistance to these people and to prevent any kind of hybrid attack against the European Union border. This is something that will take an important part of our meeting.

“But there are many other issues. The situation in the Western Balkans, in particular in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where there are tendencies which are undermining the unity of the country and hampering its development, and its way towards the European Union. The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina also. And in general, the situation in the Balkans, which is not especially good.

“The Sahel will also be part of our work today. Last night, there was another attack in Burkina Faso. 20 more people dead, killed. Our security starts in the Sahel and we had to engage more with the region.

“We will talk also about the situation in Varosha, in Cyprus, in Syria; but mainly in Sudan and Ethiopia. We have to try to avoid [an] implosion of the country. The situation in Ethiopia is becoming worse by every moment and we will try to avoid the implosion of the country”.

EU-Belarus: new wave of sanctions

Brussels 14.11.2021 As the European Union faces a new migration crisis, organised by Belarus which encourages the entry of migrants into EU countries, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) said the bloc is ready for a new wave of sanctions.

The EU diplomat deplores the situation and announces a new wave of sanctions to come against a number of Belarusian personalities. However Borrell also talks about Poland and its affront to the rule of law.

“We push the migrants: they leave 12 countries and Belarus pushes them against the border. We can end up in a humanitarian drama: it is an attack on the dignity of migrants that we bring to a dead end. (…) Yes, we are going to vote for a fifth round of sanctions, relating to those who organise these trips. (…) Lukashenko has imprisoned 35,000 people. If he could cut off the gas, he would, but the the Russians are not going to let him do it because the gas is sold by them.”

Poland wants to build an anti-migrant wall with the help of European funds, while Brussels wants to cut off funding for its breaches of the rule of law. For Josep Borrell, “there are more walls in Europe today than at the time of the Berlin Wall. However, it is not with walls that we are going to stop the migration problems”.

Regarding the “strategic compass” to guide Europeans in their diplomacy, the EU diplomat believes that “Europe is in a very dangerous environment and must have complementary instruments to NATO in order to be able to intervene in an environment that concerns it.”

Migrants storm Polish border

Brussels 11.11.2011 Polish law enforcement officers thwarted an attempt to storm the border by a large group of migrants late on Wednesday evening, November 10, Spokeswoman for the Polish border guards service Ewelina Szczepanska reported on Thursday.

“The incident occurred late last night. The situation is very complicated. It constantly comes to attempts to storm the border. 150 violent migrants tried to cross the border in the area of Bialowieza this time. They threw branches and stones at our officers, attempted to break the fence with these branches,” she said.

“This attempt was prevented. Later some of these people were taken to the forest by the Belarusian law enforcement agencies. The rest made bonfires,” Szczepanska informed. According to her, the border guards have been monitoring the development of the situation and expect similar attempts in the coming days. “We don’t rule this out. We are ready and will not allow any illegal border crossing,” she stated.

Polish border guards thwarted about 33,000 attempts to illegally cross the border in the past year. Most of those trying to enter Poland are Iraqi nationals who want to reach Germany.

Poland votes border wall construction

Brussels 29.10.2021 Poland Parliament has voted to build a border wall with Belarus to block an influx of migrants who are illegally entering Poland. Thousands of people – mostly from the Middle East and Asia – have tried to cross Poland’s border in recent months.

The European Union accuses Belarus’s government of driving the rise, in retaliation for sanctions against its regime.

The 5.5m (18ft) wall will cost €353m (£297m; $407), and some critics say it is a waste of money.

The legislation will be pass to Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda, who is expected to sign it into law without delay.

The wall – equipped with motion sensors and a monitoring system – will cover about half the length of Poland’s 400km (250 mile) border with Belarus. The government plans to build it rapidly by summer 2022.

Sassoli lawsuit against Commission

Brussels 29.10.2021 Written statement by the President of the European Parliament. Following President Sassoli’s request, the Parliament’s legal service today submitted the lawsuit against the European Commission for its failure to apply the Conditionality Regulation to the Court of Justice.

The regulation, which was adopted last December, allows the EU to suspend payments from the EU budget to Member States in which the rule of law is under threat. However, the Commission has refrained from using it so far. Parliament’s legal affairs committee had therefore recommended taking legal action.

“As requested in parliamentary resolutions, our legal service has brought an action against the European Commission for failure to apply the Conditionality Regulation to the Court of Justice today”, passed the message of the European Parliament President David Sassoli via his press person Roberto Cuillo.

“We expect the European Commission to act in a consistent manner and live up to what President von der Leyen stated during our last plenary discussion on this subject. Words have to be turned into deeds.”

David Sassoli has been absent for six weeks since September 15, when his team informed by press-release about his hospitalisation.

“The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli was taken to the Hôpital Civil in Strasbourg on Wednesday 15 September. After the necessary medical examinations, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and was immediately treated. He is in a good condition, ” statement by the Roberto Cuillo, spokesperson for President Sassoli.

Image above: #SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Sanitary COVID19 rules European Parliament State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

EU: Poland at crossroads

Brussels 27.10.2021 In spite of the deepening EU-Poland crisis the Member of the European Parliament Ryszard LEGUTKO (ECR) drew attention to the fact that in recent weeks there has been less than usual criticism from the French government. “In recent times, France has been reluctant to join the anti-Polish crusade,” Legutko underlined. As he assessed, it has, inter alia, related to the country’s growing anti-federal sentiment and the upcoming presidential elections.

Legutko emphasized that as regards the dispute between Brussels and Poland over the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal, the French opposition clearly stands on the Polish side. “President Macron is under pressure because of this. This is a good time to visit and do business with France, he noted, referring to President Andrzej Duda’s visit to the Seine, who meets President Macron on Wednesday. If we have common economic interests, it can also bring us closer politically” – Legutko said.

In an interview with Krzysztof Skowroński on Radio WNET, prof. Ryszard Legutko commented on the dispute between Warsaw and Brussels. The politician assessed another debate on the rule of law in Poland as anti-Polish. As he added, Moreover, the EU leadership is trying to destabilise the situation in Poland. “The European Union wants to destabilise the internal situation in Hungary and Poland” – he said.
Legutko pointed out that the European left, entrenched in EU institutions, is waging an increasingly brutal “cold war” against conservative governments in Europe. He stressed that this is a relatively new phenomenon.

The European Court of Justice said in a press release the fine was “necessary in order to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the legal order of the European Union and to the values on which that Union is founded, in particular that of the rule of law.” The European Commission had requested “financial penalties” be levied on September 9 after Poland failed to comply with the July ruling.
On Twitter, Poland’s Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta called the fine “usurpation and blackmail.”

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered Poland to pay a fine of €1 million ($1.2 million) per day on Wednesday, October 27, over its decision to ignore an EU ruling on Warsaw’s judicial reforms.
The top EU court imposed the penalty as Poland has not suspended the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court. The ECJ had ruled in July that the chamber did not guarantee impartiality.

Brussels: Marine Le Pen supports Morawiecki

Brussels 22.10.2020 Marine Le Pen met on Friday 22 October in Brussels the Polish head of government Mateusz Morawiecki to whom she provided “support” in the crisis between her country and the EU by denouncing “the unacceptable blackmail” of the European Commission.

“We spoke together in particular of the unacceptable blackmail exercised by the European Commission on Poland, and I wanted to give it my support,” added Marine Le Pen, who is due to hold a press conference in Brussels afterwards. midday, before going to Budapest on Monday to meet the ultraconservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Before the opening of a summit of the Twenty-Seven Thursday in Brussels, Mateusz Morawiecki, in conflict with Brussels on the independence of justice and the primacy of European law, said he was “ready for dialogue” while denouncing ” the pressure of blackmail ”.

European leaders played the card of appeasement during this Summit, while reserving the possibility of cracking down later. Tensions have increased since a decision on October 7 by the Polish Constitutional Court which declared certain articles of European treaties incompatible with the national constitution. A decision denounced by Brussels as an unprecedented attack on the primacy of European law and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU, but also as the ultimate illustration of the lack of independence of the Polish justice with regard to the government.

Poland: Sassoli ready for legal battle

“One year ago, here in this room, we said over and over again that all the hardship, pain, waiting and worry that Europeans were experiencing would not be in vain, because the pandemic would make us better, more united, bring us closer, and that, with our Treaties, we would show democracy to be stronger than authoritarian regimes.

One year ago, many commentators were also arguing that, as in the aftermath of the Second World War, hardship would make us better.

Yet today we find ourselves at a critical juncture, and everyone around this table will be well aware of the gravity of the situation. At this juncture, the European Union needs the truth. And the truth is that we are getting no better.

A few days ago, the legal bedrock of our Union was challenged. This was not for the first time, of course, nor will it be the last.

But never before has the Union been called into question so radically.

I believe that you, and all of us, need to hold a frank and open discussion on the direction we want to give our Union.

The European Parliament has debated this matter in plenary, as you know. We listened very carefully to what Prime Minister Morawiecki had to say, but wish to stress that Poland wrote the European laws in force along with the rest of us. We made these rules together, so there can be no talk of them being imposed by the European Union. The European Union is based on everyone abiding by fundamental values and common rules, which we all voluntarily agreed to observe together.

The citizens of Europe expect us to uphold these principles, and the citizens of Poland have marched in large numbers in Warsaw to remind us of that.

We have together adopted an EU law that creates a close link between the protection of the EU budget and the respect of the rule of law. This law is in force and we believe that the procedure should now be launched in order to protect our budget and secure the respect of the rule of law. This is why, as you know, upon recommendation of our Legal affairs committee, I have asked the Parliament’s legal services to refer a case to the Court to ensure that legislation in force is duly applied. We do not intend to shirk our institutional role in defending the basic principles on which the European Union is founded.

With democratic experience comes the practice of continuous dialogue. We have followed that practice many times before, and I am convinced we have the capabilities and resources to steer our way out of this crisis and rediscover the path of unity. But we must be crystal clear that while our unity is indeed bolstered by our diversity, there is one aspect of our European pact that is not negotiable: our values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. These values are hardwired into the European project, and we all chose to abide by them on joining the European Union. The European Parliament will stand very firm on this point and is ready to enforce these values, within the ambit of its prerogatives.

“We can be proud of the work we have done in tackling the pandemic. From a healthcare perspective, our continent is now ahead of the field on vaccinations, with over 75% of adults vaccinated. However, we know that this figure masks major disparities between Member States. These disparities are liable to undermine the recovery and the smooth functioning of our internal market, and hence we still have to take steps to address them. Viewed on a global scale, however, those disparities become enormous. We are well aware there can be no end to the pandemic until vaccination is available to all countries the world over, and especially the poorest. Only 4% of Africans are vaccinated and COVAX has only received 85 million doses, despite the European Union and the United States pledging over a billion doses. We must commit as of now to delivering on our promise to share vaccine doses through COVAX or via the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism, because we know that no one is safe until we are all safe.

“…Our inability to decide on a common policy is showing our adversaries just how weak we can be. Faced with those who would use migrants as a hybrid weapon, it is not a sign of strength to consider erecting a wall at our external borders. Faced with the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan and the geopolitical challenge now playing out in that theatre, it is not a sign of strength to offload responsibility for hosting migrants onto the other countries in that region without at least assuming some responsibility ourselves, as a great power should. Managing migratory flows in a unified manner and in a controlled and orderly fashion, in cooperation with our partners would, on the other hand, be a sign of our strength and of our political capabilities. The Pact on Migration and Asylum should be our instrument of choice if we are to be stronger and more united…”

Russia expels 5 Polish diplomats

Brussels 16.04.2021 Russia will expel five Polish diplomats in response to Warsaw’s actions, the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) said in a statement published on Friday, April 16.(Image above: Moscow city).

“By the way, we noted how quick Warsaw was to chime in with the U.S. administration, demanding that three Russian diplomats leave Poland. In turn, five Polish diplomats will be expelled from Russia,” the ministry said.

On April 15, Poland declared three Russian diplomats personae non gratae.

Poland expelled on Thursday three Russian diplomats accused of “hostile actions,” the Polish Foreign Ministry said. The move comes after the US expelled 10 Russian diplomats earlier on Thursday and imposed sanctions against dozens of companies and people.

Washington says the measures are retaliation for alleged Kremlin interference in last year’s presidential election and a massive cyber attack on federal agencies known as SolarWinds.

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