Supreme court law will unlock EU recovery funds says EU commissioner
Poland will get access to EU post-pandemic funding once a Supreme Court bill reforming the disciplinary regime for judges becomes law, the EU's agriculture commissioner has said adding there are assurances of that in writing from the European Commission.
Poland is due to receive EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the EU's post-pandemic Recovery and Resilience Facility.
But the European Commission (EC) has blocked Poland's access to the funding due to a rule-of-law dispute, despite the fact that the Commission has approved Poland's National Recovery Plan (KPO), which outlines how the government will spend the money.
The EC has set a number of conditions, or 'milestones,' for Poland to meet before the funding can be unblocked, one of which demands that Poland reverses, amends or withdraws changes to the judiciary that Brussels feels threaten the rule of law.
On January 13, the Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament, passed an amendment to the law on the Supreme Court, which MPs of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, the authors of the legislation, hope will satisfy the rule-of-law milestone set by the EC.
The amendment proposes that all disciplinary issues concerning judges be settled 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.
After passing through the Senate and being returned to the Sejm, which rejected all the Senate's amendments, the bill went to the president for signing, but Andrzej Duda decided to get the Constitutional Tribunal (TK) to assess its compliance with the constitution first, in what he described as a "preventative measure."
On Monday, Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU's agriculture commissioner told PAP that "without any doubts, if the amendment to the law on the Supreme Court is signed by the president, Poland will receive funds from the KPO."
"There are appropriate assurances in writing from the European Commission," he said.
"The bill, which was passed by the Sejm and which President Duda referred to the Constitutional Tribunal, has been recognised by the European Commission as fulfilling the milestones regarding the judiciary in Poland," Wojciechowski added.
In his opinion, Duda's decision to send the bill to TK "will mean that we will have to wait longer for funds from the KPO".