EC VP Jourova warns of linking rule of law to EU budget - Senate speaker

The Senate speaker Tomasz Grodzki met EC Vice-President Vera Jourova. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

European Commission (EC) Vice-President Vera Jourova, at a meeting with Polish Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki in Warsaw on Tuesday, told him that she sees a risk of linking EU budget decisions to the rule of law in each member state, Grodzki said.

"There is an increasing number of signals that EU funds will be transferred to member countries subject to compliance with the rule of law," he told a press briefing after the meeting. "This risk is seen by President Jourova, although budget decisions are still far ahead," he added.

The compliance with the rule of law in individual countries will be reviewed by a special international body, Grodzki added citing Jourova. Such a commission, consisting of representatives of all member states, will be tasked with a report, which will serve as a basis for further budgetary decisions. According to Grodzki, in the near future, member states will be asked to delegate one expert each to this new body.

Grodzki also said that Jourova was informed about the draft of a new act on the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) being created in the Senate, upper house, which "not only gives a chance to rectify the situation, but also complies with the requirements of international law, European law", and is also "fully compliant with the Polish Constitution."

Under the government's contested KRS reform, members of this judicial self-government body are no longer elected by judges but nominated by parliament, which Poland's Supreme Court sees as a breach of judicial independence.

According to Grodzki, the Senate's proposal regarding the KRS would be a good starting point for a discussion on "how to bring justice back on track and meet the standards set by the rule of law in Poland.

The Senate speaker also said he had told Jourova about his letter, published in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza on Monday, in which he appealed to politicians of all Polish parties to convene round-table talks on courts. He added that President Andrzej Duda "is in no hurry to sign" the amendment of court laws.

Earlier on Tuesday, Vera Jourova talked to Sejm (lower house) Speaker Elżbieta Witek, Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński, Supreme Court head Małgorzata Gersdorf and the Ombudsman, Adam Bodnar.