The EU Supreme Court has asked Poland to pay a daily fine of € 1 million (£ 850,000) in a row for judicial reforms.
Earlier this year, Poland was ordered to suspend a controversial disciplinary chamber, but has not yet done so.
Poland has repeatedly been at odds with the EU over changes that are seen as a weakening of the independence of the Polish courts.
This month, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal angered European leaders by effectively rejecting the primacy of EU law.
The ruling stated that parts of EU law were incompatible with the Polish constitution, prompting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to speak of a “direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order”.
The original case was brought to court by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in an attempt to prevent Polish judges from using EU law to challenge judicial changes in his government.
A significant factor in the EU-Poland dispute is that the European Commission has yet to approve 57 billion euros (48 billion pounds; 66 billion dollars) of Covid-19 recovery funds earmarked for Poland, and it may not until until his legal dispute is resolved.
An opinion poll on Tuesday suggested that 40.8% of Poles believed their government should admit defeat and end the discussion, while another 32.5% said they should compromise.
A central element of the controversial Polish reforms is a disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court that critics say is used to punish independent judges because it has the power to sanction the content of their sentences.
In July, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued an interim ruling that Poland should have suspended the chamber as it was neither sufficiently independent nor impartial. The Polish Prime Minister said the chamber will be closed in its current form, but insisted that the EU institutions do not have the right to tell Warsaw how to organize their judiciary.
BBC Warsaw correspondent Adam Easton says the Supreme Court has stopped scheduling new cases for the chamber, but has continued to hear scheduled cases.
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Last month, the EU asked the Luxembourg-based court to impose a daily fine until Poland’s response. On Wednesday, the vice-president of the court ruled that the fine must be paid until Poland suspends the chamber or until a final decision on its future is made.
The vice president said the fine was imposed to discourage Poland from the “delay in aligning one’s behavior with this ordinance”, and it was necessary “to avoid serious and irreparable damage to the legal order of the European Union”.
The Polish leader told the European Parliament this month that it is “unacceptable to talk about financial sanctions” and accused the EU of overstepping its powers.
His nationalist-conservative government has already been sentenced by the European Court of Justice to pay 500,000 euros a day for failing to temporarily close the huge Turow coal mine and power plant near the German and Czech borders. Poland refused to pay the fine because it claims the plant heats and supplies water to local homes.
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