ECB’s Lagarde warns Tusk that legal action against head of Polish central bank may be illegal

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, arrives for a news conference following a meeting of the ECB's governing council at the bank's headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde has said that the Polish central bank head, Adam Glapiński, is protected by EU law in the event that the next Polish government wants to suspend him and bring him before the State Tribunal.

In late November, Donald Tusk, leader of Poland’s largest opposition grouping, the Civic Coalition (KO), and a candidate for prime minister, announced that the opposition coalition is considering bringing Glapiński before the State Tribunal “for delaying the process of increasing interest rates in response to inflation.”

In a letter to Glapiński on Monday, Lagarde wrote that if such a motion were submitted to the lower house of the Polish parliament, it would lead to his automatic suspension and, as both the central bank head and a member of the ECB’s General Council, may be illegal.

Lagarde explained that the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and of the ECB, “in order to guarantee the independence of the heads of the national central banks, offers protection in case parliament was to subsequently adopt a resolution to prosecute you.”

Lagarde added that the National Bank of Poland could refer such a resolution to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and ask for the assessment of its legality.

A motion to bring someone before the State Tribunal, a body that examines the potential wrongdoing of people holding high office, may be submitted to the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, by the president or at least 115 MPs. A resolution to bring a central bank head to justice before the State Tribunal must be adopted in the Sejm by an absolute majority of votes (231) in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of MPs.

If the resolution is adopted, the NBP head is suspended and his duties are taken over by the vice president of the National Bank of Poland.

On Friday, Tusk said in reference to his earlier announcement on the possible prosecution of Glapinski before the State Tribunal, that his grouping will not do anything that would disturb the stability or undermine the reputation of Poland abroad.

On Monday, Ryszard Petru, an MP from the opposition Poland 2050 party, told commercial TOK FM radio that the motion to charge Glapiński is ready but there has been no political decision on the matter. 

The NBP Board has written to the speaker of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, to dissuade the new parliamentary majority from taking action against Glapiński. They argue that the NBP did react to inflation by increasing interest rates and protected Polish financial security during the pandemic.

The letter to Hołownia concluded that any action against the head of the central bank would be purely political and would destroy the independence of the NBP.

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