PM says Euroscepitc ally wants time to consider judicial reform bill

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's prime minister Mateusz Marek/PAP

Poland's prime minister has said the leadership of Solidary Poland, a Eurosceptic and junior member of the ruling coalition, has asked for a few days to consider whether to support a judicial reform bill.

Mateusz Morawiecki also said that he expected the bill, which amends the law on the Supreme Court, implementing measures intended to appease Brussels in its protracted dispute with Warsaw over the rule of law on Poland, to have sufficient parliamentary support to be passed.

Morawiecki was asked at press conference ahead of a flight to Brussels whether Solidary Poland, known for its hawkish stance on Europe and opposition to meeting the European Commission (EC)'s demands, would vote in favour of the amendment.

"I don't know whether Solidary Poland will vote in favour," Morawiecki said. "From what I've heard, the Solidary Poland leadership has asked for a few days to decide on certain provisions and we will know for sure in a few days. However, I think there will be sufficient backing in parliament to adopt that bill because it is good for Poland."

There has been speculation that Solidary Poland, which is led by Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister, might vote against the bill despite being part of the government.

The amendment proposes among other measures that justices facing disciplinary procedures be judged 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.

If passed, the legislation could give Poland access to billions of euros from a post-pandemic EU recovery fund.

Brussels has so far frozen Poland out of the fund, saying the government has, until now, failed to make the necessary changes to safeguard the rule of law.

For Poland to get the money it must now meet certain rule-of-law conditions, or milestones. The new legislation appears to be an attempt to do this.

Morawiecki said of the proposed amendment that deliberations over whether a judge be assessed by the chamber or by a court were of "secondary, if not tertiary, importance," adding that the priority was to receive the funding.

The bill amending the law on the Supreme Court was scheduled to go before parliament on Tuesday night.