EU warns Poland it could face fines if it does not comply with court ruling.

The European Commission has warned it may seek to impose fines on Poland if the EU member state refuses to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Justice regarding judicial independence, in an escalating row over the rule of law.

It came as the EU executive unveiled a report assessing the justice systems, anti-corruption safeguards and media freedoms in 27 member states.

The report criticised insufficient corruption controls and the “obstruction and intimidation” of journalists in Hungary, as well as a “deterioration” of media freedom in Slovenia, and raised serious concerns about the institutions for preventing corruption and about reform that “undermines the independence of judges” in Poland.

European justice commissioner Didier Reynders told reporters he had written to the Polish government requesting information on how they would comply with the decisions by the European Court of Justice.

The European Court of Justice ruled last week that judicial reforms by the Polish government were not compatible with EU law, while Poland’s own constitutional court ruled that the country did not have to obey such rulings.

European Commission vice-president for values and transparency Vera Jourova said that unless Poland gave details on how it would comply with the EU court’s ruling by August 16th, the commission would ask the court “to impose a penalty payment on Poland”. The commission was also prepared to take fresh infringement proceedings against Poland as well, she said.

“Also in this case, we will ask for financial sanctions if Poland does not remedy the situation [by complying with the ruling] by the 16th of August,” Ms Jourova said. “EU has primacy over national law . . . The rights of EU citizens and businesses must be protected in the same way across all member states. There can be no compromise on this.”

Reform efforts

As well as identifying areas of concern, the commission’s rule of law report praised reform efforts in countries including Malta, Slovakia, and Romania. In its report on the Republic, it noted a low number of judges per head of population, and that anti-corruption efforts were hampered by “limited resources and institutional fragmentation”.

“Challenges remain as regards enforcement, in particular on asset disclosure, lobbying and revolving doors,” it found in relation to the State. Reforms of defamation law “foreseen for adoption in the coming months, are expected to have a positive impact on the operation of journalists” in Ireland, it added.

There is increasing pressure on the commission to step up action on rule of law from EU member states concerned about a slide towards authoritarianism in parts of central and eastern Europe, and the potential misuse of billions of euro in forthcoming Covid-19 stimulus funds.

A new tool is set to link the receipt of EU money with requirements to observe the rule of law, and the European Commission has yet to sign off on applications from Poland and Hungary for funds under the €750 billion Next Generation EU recovery package.

In their national spending plans Poland has requested almost €24 billion in recovery grants, while Hungary has bid for more than €7 billion in stimulus money. The commission remains in negotiations with the two member states over their requests, and concerns over protections against corruption are said to be holding up the approval of Hungary’s plan.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

This Syrian man was tortured and murdered. His brother wants justice

This Syrian man was tortured and murdered. His brother wants justice

Russian mercenaries have been accused of grave human rights abuses that experts say could, in some cases, amount to war crimes. CNN has reported extensively on the alleged atrocities committed in Africa. We now bring you another report, this time ...

Hail smashes through conservatory roof & car windscreens amid 30c heatwave in extreme UK weather.

Hail smashes through conservatory roof & car windscreens amid 30c heatwave in extreme UK weather.

A SECOND 30C heatwave is on the cards for August - and it's expected to last for a glorious two weeks. But Brits must first face a weekend of thunderstorms and HAIL rumbling across much of England and Wales. Hailstones the size of golf balls smash...

Rep. Salazar slams Socialism on 'Hannity': It doesn't work

Rep. Salazar slams Socialism on 'Hannity': It doesn't work

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar joins 'Hannity' to discuss Cuba's crisis: 'they're saying 'we want freedom'' #Hannity #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompa...

COVID-19: Families struggle with high hospital costs in India - DW News.

COVID-19: Families struggle with high hospital costs in India - DW News.

The pandemic in India has taken a huge toll on human lives. It also placed a massive burden on people's finances. During the second wave, many people could only find medical treatment in private hospitals. For some, that's where the financial trau...

Sen. Lindsey Graham blasts Biden administration on border crisis

Sen. Lindsey Graham blasts Biden administration on border crisis

South Carolina Republican shares his perspective on the border crisis on ‘Fox News Primetime’ Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service deliveri...

'Blaming the NHS app is like blaming a fire alarm when there's a fire'.

'Blaming the NHS app is like blaming a fire alarm when there's a fire'.

Consultant anaesthetist Dr Tom Dolphin says it's unsurprising so many people have been told to isolate through the NHS app considering the rise in COVID-19 infections. Kay Burley asked him how long it would be before we saw the number of cases ris...