Education minister says amended Supreme Court law will unlock EU funds
Poland's education minister has said new legislation amending the law on the Supreme Court is incompatible with the Polish constitution but necessary in order to secure EU post-pandemic funding.
The Sejm, the lower house of Parliament, on Friday passed a bill on Supreme Court reform that its authors from the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) believe will meet conditions set by the European Commission to unlock Poland's access to billions of euros in EU funding put on hold due to rule-of-law concerns.
The amended legislation 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.
Commenting on the passage of the bill, Przemyslaw Czarnek, the education minister, called the new law a "systemic experiment following blackmail by the EU."
"This law does not fall within the framework of the constitution, but there are decisions that we would not take in peacetime but we are forced to in times of war," he told PAP.
However, he added, "this is the law that has been accepted by the European Commission as a condition for Poles to get their money blocked by the opposition."
In Czarnek's opinion the opposition, which has a slim majority in the Senate, will introduce amendments designed to stop Poland getting the money, but he added that he hopes that after the bill returns to the Sejm, it will be passed for the final time.