Poland has been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by the EC for failing to ensure the independence of its national telecoms regulator, the Office of Electronic Communications (Urzad Komunikacji Elektronicznej, UKE). In May 2020 the Polish government amended legislation covering the appointment and dismissal of the head of a national regulatory authority (NRA). It then sacked the head of UKE, Marcin Cichy, while also cancelling a planned auction of 3.5GHz 5G licences. Cichy had previously warned against cancelling the sale, saying it would create ‘legal uncertainty’.
According to the EC, Cichy was not due to leave his post until September 2021. Under EC rules, the conditions that can result in an early dismissal of an NRA head must be laid down before the start of their tenure. The Commission adds that this is ‘an important safeguard to guarantee the independence of the national regulatory authority from political pressure’.