Poland changes judiciary law; demands EU release COVID funds
Poland has replaced a controversial body that disciplined judges with a new accountability panel — the latest twist in a long-running dispute with the European Union over the country's judicial independence — and Poland's leading politician said Tuesday he hoped the EU would have a “proper” reaction to the move.
The EU has frozen billions of euros of pandemic funds for Poland over criticism of its rule of law record.
“I hope the reaction will be proper and in line with the (EU) treaties,” Kaczynski said, reiterating his long-term view that EU bodies have been violating the bloc's treaties in their approach to Poland.
President Andrzej Duda signed the changes to the disciplinary regulations into law late Monday.
Kaczynski, the main leader of the ruling party, also said the war in Ukraine, Poland's neighbour, has recently changed the EU's approach to the government in Warsaw for better and there are some “elements of goodwill” to be seen. Poland is supporting Ukraine's struggle against the Russian invasion and has taken in millions of Ukrainian refugees.
The EU's chief executive, Ursula von der Leyen, has warned that no money will be disbursed if Poland fails to reach the “milestones” in granting judicial independence: abolishing the disciplinary chamber, rewriting its rules and allowing judges sanctioned or suspended by the chamber to have their cases reviewed.
The changes authored by Duda remove the Supreme Court's Disciplinary Chamber, which has been used to sanction outspoken judges. It will be replaced by a new accountability body appointed by the president.
Only one of the many judges disciplined for being critical of the government's actions has been reinstated, but was appointed to a different section of the court and sent on leave.
Von der Leyen has faced criticism last week from centrist lawmakers in the European Parliament after the European Commission, the EU's executive body conditionally accepted Poland's pandemic recovery plan, opening the possibility of disbursement of funds totalling about $39 billion. The lawmakers argued the decision was premature, as Poland has failed to address EU's conditions.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)