European Commission hits Poland with €70 million in fines & 45 days to pay

The European Commission has ordered Poland notice to pay some €70 million in fines for failing to reverse an illegal disciplinary regime for judges, a spokesman said.

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.

Poland has said it will not pay the fine and has criticised the Commission's actions.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller told state-run news agency PAP on Thursday the European Commission was interfering in matters that should be reserved for member states and that it had no legal basis for doing so.

"Poland will take legal steps to prevent violations of the EU treaties," he was quoted as saying.

The Commission says the disciplinary system for judges allows for political meddling in the courts and hence violates the laws in the 27-nation EU, as well as in Poland, that establish judicial independence.

EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said a "call for payment" had now been sent to Warsaw for failing to scrap the disciplinary regime as ordered by the European Court of Justice.

Sources told Reuters that the Commission would give Warsaw 45 days to pay.

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