The European Commission has referred Poland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to safeguard the independence of its regulator.
TeleGeography reports that in May 2020, Poland’s government sacked the head of regulator UKE (Urzad Komunikacji Elektronicznej / Office of Electronic Communications) Marcin Cichy shortly after updating legislation relating to hiring and dismissing the heads of national regulatory authorities (NRAs).
At the same time, the government scrapped a scheduled sale of 3.5GHz licences – a move that Cichy had specifically advised against on the grounds that it would lead to “legal uncertainty.” Cichy’s tenure at UKE was not due to end until September 2021.
Under European Commission rules, dismissing the head of an NRA prior to the end of their term requires certain criteria to be met – and crucially, these must be agreed before the start of their tenure. The Commission notes that this is “an important safeguard to guarantee the independence of the national regulatory authority from political pressure.”