Draft law on judiciary an important step for EU funds says EC spokesperson

Legislation on the Polish Supreme Court now in parliament is a crucial step towards meeting “milestones” needed for Poland to gain access to billions of euros in EU funding, the spokesperson for the European Commission (EC) said on Thursday.

Christian Wigand said the EC would closely monitor the progress of the legislation and would analyse it once it became law and the EC was informed about it.

On January 13, the Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament, passed an amendment to the law on the Supreme Court. According to governing party Law and Justice (PiS) MPs, the authors of the legislation, the amendment proposes that all disciplinary issues concerning judges be settled by the top administrative court instead of the Supreme Court's Chamber of Professional Responsibility, a body created to replace a disciplinary chamber considered by the EC to be politicised.

Law and Justice hopes that it will satisfy one of the conditions, or milestones, set by the EC Poland needs to meet if it wants to gain access to post-pandemic recovery fund.

Brussels has far blocked access owing to concerns over the state of Poland's justice system. The legislation is intended to rectify this.

"We remain in contact with the Polish authorities to assure the Polish legislation is fully in accordance with the commitments defined in the (Poland's – PAP) National Recovery Plan regarding judicial independence," he pointed out. "It is important that the final law raises the standards of protection and independence of the judiciary."

The bill must now be approved by the president before it becomes law.

Poland is due to receive EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the EU's post-pandemic Recovery and Resilience Facility.