EC president ties court reforms to recovery funds

Olivier Hoslet/PAP/EPA

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the Commission wanted to include an obligation to reverse key provisions of Poland's court reforms in its National Recovery Plan.

All EU member states have had to submit a post-pandemic recovery plan in order to qualify for funding under the bloc's Recovery and Resistance Facility. Poland stands to gain over EUR 58 billion in grants and loans.

Von der Leyen told a Brussels press conference that the preconditions for receiving recovery funding were "very clear." She said it had been agreed in the regulation that the package included investment and reform. "And the reforms are linked to the European semester and the country-specific recommendations," she said. "There is a long-standing country-specific recommendation for Poland, that is the independence of the judiciary.

"And thus I have always been very clear, we want to put into that recovery and resilience plan a clear commitment to dismantle the Disciplinary Chamber, to end or reform the disciplinary regime, and to start a process to re-install the judges," she continued.

Von der Leyen added that this was "embedded in the overall ruling of the European Court of Justice" and as such there was consistency in the EU's position. She added that she believed the conditions were "doable" and that the two sides would reach an agreement but that the reforms were an essential condition.