Supreme Court head favours complying with EC recommendations

The first president of Poland's Supreme Court has said the controversial Disciplinary Chamber and National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) should be reformed to take into consideration objections by the European Commission.

The bodies, especially the Disciplinary Chamber, have been at the heart of a dispute between the Polish government and the EU, with Brussels claiming that they undermine the rule of law in Poland.

Judge Malgorzata Manowska told the private TVN24 broadcaster in an interview screened on Saturday: "If the European Commission has objections that in the Disciplinary Chamber there are only new judges or that there is too much of a political accent in the appointment of KRS (members) I am for liquidating those shortcomings or inadequacies.

"I would recommend changes, modifications of the rules, in order to defend Poland from attacks, but we cannot lose sight of those aspects of the reforms that are necessary," she continued.

She said she had sent letters to the president, Sejm (lower house) speaker and prime minister, in which she outlined "how the situation looks" and what actions, in her opinion, need to be taken.

She went on to say she would not stand down from her position "to please people who belittle her status," though she said she may have to leave if the time came when she could not do anything to "smooth things over."

"I would like to underscore clearly that I am not talking about withdrawing from the reforms of the judicial system, which were necessary to make, including in creating an effective disciplinary judiciary," Manowska told TVN24. "By effective I am not thinking about bullying anybody but ensuring equality before the law and greater transparency of the judicial authorities' actions, including in the field of fair organisation of promotion procedures."

She said the rules should be amended in such a way as to appease the European Commission but without returning to the previous state of affairs.

The European Commission has given Poland until August 16 to adhere to an EU court ruling on the Disciplinary Chamber of the country’s Supreme Court, or face a financial penalty.

The deadline has ramped up tensions between the EU and Poland over the Polish government’s overhaul of the judicial system, which Brussels says undermines the independence of the judiciary.