President right to refer supreme court bill to top court says PM
Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has said the president was right to refer a Supreme Court bill, seen as vital to unlocking Poland’s access to billions of euros in EU funding, to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal given his doubts and reservations over the legislation.
Morawiecki made the statement when asked on Tuesday about President Andrzej Duda's decision to send the bill to the tribunal to assess its compliance with the constitution, in what he described as a "preventative measure."
Duda referred the bill to the tribunal on Friday after it had been passed by parliament.
"The president had earlier presented his doubts regarding the bill, which was a compromise with the European Union," Morawiewcki said in Jablonna near Warsaw, adding that, while announcing his decision, the president had admitted that this compromise was a good solution.
Morawiecki also said that as the Constitutional Tribunal "is the only institution in Poland which can evaluate the compliance of a bill with the constitution; the entire matter would be settled after the top court has issued its verdict."
The legislation is designed to meet one of the conditions set by the European Commission (EC) for Poland to gain access to an EU post-pandemic recovery fund.
Brussels, so far, has frozen Poland out of the fund owing to concerns over the rule of law in Poland.
The EU's objections largely concern Poland's justice system, especially a disciplinary chamber for judges in the Polish Supreme Court, which the European Commission regards as an illegal restriction on judicial independence.
The new legislation could remove some of the EU's misgivings by moving all disciplinary and immunity cases of judges to the Supreme Administrative Court.
Poland is due to receive EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, a fund that most other EU members are already spending money from.
Morawiecki said he was sure that Poland would get access to the funds "probably in the first half of the year, if the legislation process has been completed, or in the second half."