Jourova's statement was 'private' says ruling party spokesman

STEPHANIE LECOCQ/PAP/EPA

Vera Jourova, vice president of the European Commission, was expressing her private opinion when she suggested that Poland's amended Supreme Court law fails to meet the conditions set out in the country's recovery plan (KPO), the ruling party Law and Justice spokesman has claimed.

Radoslaw Fogiel said on Friday that Christian Wigand, the European Commission's spokesman, had said that the Commission had yet to make an assessment of the KPO. Fogiel claimed that Wigand had distanced himself from Jourova’s words and that they were "basically a private statement by Ms Jourova."

"Ms Jourova represents the Czech Republic in the European Commission and was appointed by the previous government," said Fogiel. "Without revealing too much, I can say that our talks with the Czechs show that after the next elections to the European Parliament, Ms Jourova's chances of rejoining the Commission are slim."

According to the tvn.24.pl news portal, Jourova was asked on Thursday at a meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) whether the amendment to Poland's Supreme Court law meets the conditions set out in the country's KPO. The amendment scrapping a disputed disciplinary chamber for judges was a necessary step to receive EU post-pandemic recovery funds.

Jourova replied that the KPO failed to meet the conditions, or milestones in EU terminology, necessary to receive EU funding.

"Poland will have to reflect on the conditions. And if they will not have sufficient response in the legally binding rules for the Polish judiciary which will correspond with the milestones we will not pay the money," she said.

She added that she was only reiterating the earlier words of the head of the European Commission (EC).

Despite what Fogiel said on Friday, Wigand told PAP on Thursday that the new legislation abolishing a disciplinary chamber for judges at the Polish Supreme Court fails to rescind changes to the Polish judicial system that have been questioned by the Commission.

He highlighted the failure of the legislation to remove clauses forbidding judges from questioning the independence and legal appointment of other judges

Wigand said the Commission had informed Poland about its position.

On June 1, the EC approved Poland's KPO plan, which outlines how it will spend money from a post-pandemic recovery fund. The approval was a step towards granting Poland access to EUR 35.4 billion from the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

The EC said Poland's KPO contained milestones related to important aspects of judicial independence and that Warsaw must show that they have been met before any payment could be made.

Subsequently, finance ministers of all EU member states approved Poland's KPO on June 17.