Duda ready to respond to justice minister over judicial bill says aide

Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, will respond to a letter from the justice minister raising doubts over new legislation amending the law on the Supreme Court, if he considers them sensible, the president’s foreign policy advisor said on Monday.

Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister and leader of Solidary Poland, a Eurosceptic member of the governing coalition, has said that his party will vote against further work on the bill, which is intended to secure EU funds owed to Poland under its national recovery plan (KPO).

In the letter to Duda, published by two Polish newspapers, Nasz Dziennik and Do Rzeczy, Ziobro wrote that Poles are told that a significant part of the EU recovery funds under the KPO is a non-repayable subsidy, which he said, is not true.

"Poles have the right to know that the National Recovery Plan is in fact a hidden, very expensive loan granted to us by the European Union, which we will have to return to the EU in its entirety along with a lot of interest," he said.

The EUR 36 billion due to Poland under the KPO "will cost us at least PLN 300 billion (EUR 64 billion), and according to some estimates, it will reach PLN 500 billion (EUR 107 billion)," Ziobro claimed.

He added that decisions about Poland should be made in Poland, not in Brussels or Berlin, and that almost 10.5 million Poles voted for President Andrzej Duda, not for the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

Commenting on sections of the letter, Marcin Przydacz, the newly-appointed chief foreign policy advisor to Duda, told private broadcaster Radio Zet that he agrees that "decisions should be made in Poland and are made in Poland."

"It is the Polish parliament that is working on this law (on the Supreme Court - PAP) and it is the Polish president who will decide whether to sign it or send it back to parliament," he said.

Przydacz added that the president "will certainly read the letter from Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro and if considers the proposals presented in it to be sensible, he will respond to them."

Ziobro also wrote that "the law on the Supreme Court dictated by the European Commission undermines the constitutional powers of the President to appoint judges and the durability of your appointments."

"This strikes at the principle of irrevocability, and thus - limits the independence of judges. It allows to question the right of judges to adjudicate, and thus the legality of millions of judgments issued," he continued, apparently referring to the status of judges appointed by Duda after the government's overhaul of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS).

The independence of the KRS, the body responsible for nominating judges, has been called into question by both the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights due to the fact that most of its members were appointed by the ruling party and not by fellow judges.

Following the publication of the letter, later on Monday, Ziobro made an appeal to Duda to initiate a national debate on the KPO.

"Every informed voter should know that it is in fact a hidden, expensive loan and an obligation to implement climate policy," he said.