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PM says Poland’s rule-of-law row with EU must be resolved

29.12.2022 23:00
The Polish prime minister has said that his country’s dispute with the European Union over the rule of law must be resolved so that Poland can receive billions of euros from the bloc’s pandemic relief fund, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mateusz Morawiecki.
Mateusz Morawiecki.PAP/Rafał Guz

Mateusz Morawiecki made the appeal on Twitter on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.   

He wrote: “The dispute with the European Commission must be resolved. Today, the real conflict is taking place to the east of Poland, while the [EU] funds from the National Recovery Plan mean more money for the Polish army.”

On December 13, a group of MPs with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party submitted to parliament what they described as a “key” judicial bill that would help resolve Poland’s dispute with the EU. 

Judicial bill

According to the ruling party, the bill changes Poland’s rules for disciplining judges and testing their independence, in line with the expectations of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

As such, the draft legislation meets a key “milestone,” bringing Poland a step closer to receiving EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in loans from the EU’s pandemic relief fund under the National Recovery Plan, officials said. 

The bill has been drawn up by Morawiecki and Poland's Minister for European Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

President’s concerns

Days after the draft legislation was submitted to parliament, President Andrzej Duda called on lawmakers to process the judicial bill “in a calm and constructive manner.”

The head of state said that Poland should receive the pandemic relief funding from the EU, and that he would support measures designed to help make it possible, but added that such measures “must comply with the Polish constitution.”  

Duda said this would be “the main criterion according to which I will be assessing the bill.”

The president added that the new regulations must make sure that “Poland is able to determine the shape of its judicial system in a sovereign way, as guaranteed by EU treaties.”

He added that the new legislation must safeguard citizens’ legal security and the stability of court decisions, the IAR news agency reported.   

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said that his United Poland party, a junior partner in the governing coalition, would not back the judicial bill because it "contravenes the constitution and undermines Polish sovereignty."

Bill withdrawn from parliament for further consultation

After the president’s comments, the governing Law and Justice party withdrew the judicial bill from parliament for further consultation with governmental and presidential officials, news outlets reported at the time. 

Morawiecki met with Ziobro to discuss the bill on December 23; further meetings are planned, officials told reporters.

Meanwhile, Piotr Müller, the spokesman for the Polish government, has said that Poland is seeking to obtain pandemic relief funds from the EU “because our country needs them.”

Speaking in an interview with Polish Radio on Thursday, Müller said that Morawiecki "is determined to unblock these funds for Poland."

Müller added: "They are important from the economic standpoint, but also from the defence standpoint."

Friday is day 310 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, wpolityce.pl