EC confirms receiving Polish reply on judicial reforms

The European Commission (EC) has confirmed it has received a letter from the Polish government on the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court and will react "swiftly" to it, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

January 10 marked a deadline for Poland to inform the EC of when and how exactly it plans to dismantle the disciplinary chamber, which has been at the heart of a protracted dispute between Brussels and Warsaw.

On October 27 last year the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the top EU court, imposed a EUR 1 million daily fine on Poland until it complies with a July 14 ruling by the same court demanding the immediate suspension of the chamber, which disciplines judges.

On Tuesday, a European Commission spokesman, Christian Wigand, said that the Commission had received a reply from Poland to a letter it sent on December 22, and that it was being analysed and the Commission would react "swiftly."

He added that in the absence of evidence that Poland has fully complied with the CJEU ruling from July, the Commission will proceed to send the first request for payment.

In October 2019, the European Commission decided to take Poland to the CJEU over the chamber. The EC argued that the Disciplinary Chamber under the Polish Supreme Court, set up in 2017, violated judicial independence in that it could have a "chilling effect" on judges, and thus ran against EU law.

The Luxembourg-based Court said the new disciplinary chamber "does not provide all the guarantees of impartiality and independence", and that, especially, it is not protected against direct or indirect influence by the legislative and executive power.

The institution of the Disciplinary Chamber was part of a broader overhaul of the Polish judicial system, large parts of which have been contested by the EU on the grounds that they made courts vulnerable to political pressure