The ECJ Rules That Interim Measures Against Poland Should Stay in Place

Poland, the interim Pologne that triggered Europe’s illiberal turn and whose president is still mourning those killed in the Smolensk plane crash, is facing another setback. On Friday the European Court of Justice ruled that penalties imposed on Poland by its top court should remain in place for now – a setback to the nationalist government’s push for greater independence from Brussels.

The ECJ’s decision came in response to two cases against Poland – one on the Turow coal mine and the other on a new disciplinary chamber for judges, both of which it found incompatible with Polish law. It’s the latest move in a fractious row with Brussels over the country’s treatment of EU law and the rule of law.

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This is a very important ruling because it shows that the Court of Justice is ready to use its most powerful tool – interim measures – against Poland. Without these, it will be too late to ensure the application of EU law by the country and its judicial institutions, even once the Commission’s infringement case against Poland is formally initiated in Luxembourg.

This decision was taken using Article 279 TFEU, a particularly urgent kind of interim relief. The ECJ decided that the situation is so serious that it was necessary to take immediate action, without giving Poland a chance to defend its position in a hearing. It’s a clear warning to the country that it will be punished if it continues to ignore its obligations.

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