President owed apology for no consultation on judiciary bill says gov't
Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, deserves an apology for not being consulted on the draft of a new Supreme Court bill the governing Law and Justice party hoped would help unlock billions of euros in EU funding, the government’s spokesperson has said.
The current Supreme Court law was originally drafted by the President's Office and was meant to dispel fears the European Commission (EC) had that the rule of law was under threat in Poland. But final amendments introduced to it by Law and Justice, the ruling party, without asking the president, led to a renewed stalemate between the EU and Poland.
"Neither I nor any of my associates took part in any negotiations with EC officials on the shape of the Polish justice system after February (when the previous version of the Supreme Court law was being drafted - PAP)," Duda said last week.
"Neither have I worked on any bill concerning the matter," he added. "I believed that the important issues that were raised by both the EC and the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union - PAP) had been resolved through this amendment that I had prepared and which was passed by the Sejm and signed by me."
Piotr Mueller, when asked by private broadcaster Radio Zet on Tuesday if the president had been ignored, admitted that "perhaps not enough attention was paid to ensure proper consultations with the president at each stage" and that "the president deserves a sincere apology."
Last Thursday, Rafal Bochenek, the PiS spokesman, said that following an appeal for prudence by Duda, the first reading of the draft amendments to the law on the Supreme Court had been removed from the current Sejm agenda.
"It is a difficult and important bill which also requires in-depth analysis... accordingly, consultations will be conducted on this matter," he added.
The Polish government has stepped up work on changes to the country's justice system after months of negotiations between Warsaw and Brussels failed to ensure the release of badly-needed money from the EU's pandemic recovery funding.
Brussels has frozen Polish access to the funding because it feels Warsaw has failed to meet certain conditions, known as milestones, that will, it says, uphold the rule of law.
The Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament, is set to hold a vote on the amended Supreme Court bill that is planned to meet the EU's expectations in the new year.