The Brussels Brief

€1 million

This is what Poland has to pay in daily fines if it does not reverse the ‘reform’ it has implemented in the judiciary. The European Commission instituted a court case against Poland in the European Court of Justice after Poland did not reverse these ‘reforms’. The issues at the centre of the dispute are the disciplinary tribunal for judges and the appointments it had made by raising the retirement age of the judiciary. Poland’s issue was even raised by other Member States during the last European Council in which some Member States were quite vocal in demonstrating that their patience is running thin. The bombshell, new, but expected, arrived last week, when the CJEU issued a €1 million daily fine to Poland after it had ignored a previous CJEU ruling, in which the ‘reform’ was declared not in line with the European Treaties. Poland has upped the stakes recently when a Polish judge said to be close to the ruling Law and Justice Party ruled that the Treaties of the EU are not in line with the Polish Constitution, triggering fears of a Polexit. However, Poland seems not to be giving in to pressure fromBrussels. Read more on this here.

Last week the Commission this week said that Poland needs to reverse the reforms, which Poland seems to be accepting now, but it has to allow judges to investigate each other. The much-needed Recovery Funds are being withheld by the Commission pending the outcome.

Meanwhile the European Parliament has taken the European Commission to Court after it ‘failed’ to use the conditionality clause against Hungary in its never-ending rule of law dispute with Brussels.

France vs UK

Few ever doubted the repercussions that the UK would have had to face once it left the EU but even fewer predicted that the situation will be degenerating to this level, which is reminiscent of the 18th century. According to France, the UK is not honouring the agreement regarding French fishermen access to the UK seas, with France retaliating by prohibiting access to UK fishing trawlers in its ports. France has taken further actions and is set to ban the import of British seafood products. Meanwhile, in a private letter to the European Commission, French PM Castex urged the EU to take a tough action against the UK as failure in doing so would harm the EU’s credibility in the long-term. The UK has also summoned the French Ambassador after France seized a British trawler.

Meanwhile the Brits are contemplating court action as they accuse France of breaching the Brexit deal. It has been reported that French President Macron and UK PM Johnson had a head-to-head meeting on the matter, in the margins of the G20.

Read more here.

Energy prices

Last week Energy Ministers met in Luxembourg for an extraordinary Energy Council meeting which was proposed at the last European Council. The rise in energy prices has divided the EU into two blocks, which can be summarised as the haves and the havenots. On one side there are the most developed nations such as those in the North and on the other side, the ones that are still dependant of mineral resources for their energy supply. The latter group were led by Spain and France, while the former was mostly led by the Dutch. Malta’s Minister Miriam Dalli attended the meeting and called on the EU to invest in deep offshore renewable energy projects in the Mediterranean, which thus far are prohibitively expensive.  

The meeting, as expected, did not produce any breakthroughs.

Read Bloomberg’s report here.

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