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Poland was recently fined by The EU's Court of Justice for keeping the Turów coal mine open.

The same article mentions that the Polish Prime Minister would not comply with the order.

I am wondering how can the EU actually collect these fines. At individual level there is a mechanism (mutual recognition of fines), but I cannot find out anything at state level.

What happens if Poland refuses to pay these fines? Is there a mechanism for the court order to actually be applied despite the member country's refusal to comply with it?

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Under Articles 29 & 31 of Commission Decision C(2018) 5119, with the catchy title of Commission Decision on the internal procedure provisions for the recovery of amounts receivable arising from direct management and the recovery of fines, lump sums and penalty payments under the Treaties, the fine amount (plus interest) can be recovered through deductions from EU payments due to the member state.

Article 29
Recovery procedure and default interest applicable

  1. If the Member State upon which the Court of Justice has imposed a lump sum or penalty payment has not effected payment by the deadline specified in the letter requesting payment, the accounting officer shall immediately send a letter of formal notice, asking it to pay the amount owed within fifteen calendar days, plus default interest at the rate referred to in Article 9.
  2. If payment has still not been made on expiry of the fifteen calendar days following receipt of the letter of formal notice by the Member State, the accounting officer shall recover the amount by offsetting in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 31 after having informed the authorising officer responsible and having given the indebted Member State the opportunity to submit comments.

Article 31
Offsetting
In the circumstances provided for in Article 29(2), the total amount of the lump sum or penalty payment imposed by the Court of Justice, plus interest, shall be deducted from payments due to the Member State.

In this specific case of the Turów coal mine, this procedure was alluded to by a European Commission spokesperson quoted by Polish news website Interia.pl (my translation):

In practice, this is done through requests for payment from the Commission to the Member State. If the payment is not made (within the set deadline) and after allowing the Member State to provide explanations, the financial penalty should be recovered by deducting from payments due to the Member State in question.

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    And watch outgoing payments be withheld in return.
    – Joshua
    Sep 24 at 21:44
  • @Joshua, A situation which could easily escalate into no payments being made by either side. Not sure who comes out the better or worse for that. It's not just a financial issue, it's a perception issue.
    – ouflak
    Sep 27 at 10:29
  • @ouflak: Yes, that's what I was hinting at.
    – Joshua
    Sep 27 at 13:37

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