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Polish PM urges MPs to back new judicial bill to help unblock EU funds

14.12.2022 19:00
Poland’s prime minister has called on opposition lawmakers to support his ruling conservative Law and Justice party’s new judicial bill to bring the country a step closer to receiving money from the European Union’s pandemic relief fund.
Mateusz Morawiecki.
Mateusz Morawiecki.PAP/Mateusz Marek

Mateusz Morawiecki made the appeal at a news conference in Warsaw on Wednesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.  

Earlier in the day, the prime minister met with senior lawmakers from various parties to outline the draft legislation, officials said.

Meanwhile, Poland’s Minister for European Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, told reporters that the new Supreme Court bill would allow the country to meet one of the “milestones,” specified by the EU’s executive Commission, which have to be fulfilled before the country can receive EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the bloc’s pandemic relief fund under the National Recovery Plan.

“Under the bill, from now on, the Supreme Administrative Court (NSA), and not the Supreme Court (SN), will be responsible for disciplining judges,” Szynkowski vel Sęk said. 

New Supreme Court bill ‘a good compromise with Brussels’: PM

Morawiecki told reporters at Wednesday's news conference that the bill represented “a good compromise” with Brussels, after both sides had made concessions. 

"There isn’t time to continue this tug of war,” he said.

He added: “I appeal to some members of our political camp, but above all to the opposition: let’s process this bill together, fast, because the National Recovery Plan means new funds for Poland."

Morawiecki said that EU money under Poland's National Recovery Plan was “vitally important” and “badly needed” as it would “strengthen the Polish currency” and could be spent on defence, new roads and green energy, among other priorities. 

Poland told to change rules for disciplining judges

Brussels approved Poland’s National Recovery Plan in June, but said that Warsaw must meet several milestones, including full compliance with an EU court ruling requiring Poland to change its rules for disciplining judges, according to news reports.    

The chief of the EU's executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated in September that Poland had not yet made enough progress to justify releasing the funds, the PAP news agency reported.

Now the new Supreme Court bill seeks to allay the European Commission’s concerns, officials said. 

Also, under the draft legislation, the Supreme Administrative Court will be responsible for testing the independence of judges. 

Moreover, there will be no possibility to discipline judges for checking, according to procedures, whether another judge meets the criteria for independence, impartiality and having been appointed by an act of parliament. 

In other words, judges will not be disciplined for checking or assessing whether another judge had been appointed lawfully and was entitled to hear cases, the PAP news agency reported.

37 milestones

Overall, there are 37 milestones to be met before the pandemic relief funds can be unlocked, officials said.

According to Brussels, Poland has yet to make sufficient progress on offshore wind farm regulations, on the promotion of hydrogen in transport, and on a tax break for companies using robotic equipment, among other milestones, officials told reporters.

Meanwhile, Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who leads the opposition centrist Civic Platform (PO) party, welcomed the new Supreme Court bill, saying that Poland's ruling conservatives “bowed to pressure from European institutions.”

He added that the bill was “imperfect,” but it was "easy to garner support for its improvement." 

Tusk called on all parties to make sure Poland finally received EU funds under its National Recovery Plan. He said the money “should have already been in Poland for nearly two years,” but “Law and Justice wasted 21 months," the PAP news agency reported.

The new Supreme Court bill was submitted to the lower house, the Sejm, in the early hours of Wednesday, according to PAP.

MPs are expected to start debating the legislation on Thursday.


Source: PAP, tvpparlament.pl