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Polish MPs back judicial changes to help access EU funds

13.01.2023 11:45
Polish lawmakers on Friday approved a key judicial reform bill that could help the country access billions in European Union funds withheld due to an ongoing dispute over the rule of law.
The lower house of Polands parliament, the Sejm, in session on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.
The lower house of Poland's parliament, the Sejm, in session on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak

The measure was backed by 203 members of the lower house of Poland’s parliament, while 52 voted against and 189 abstained, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

The bill now goes to the upper house, the Senate, for further debate. It will also need to be signed by President Andrzej Duda.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in December that his country’s dispute with the European Union over the rule of law must be resolved so that Poland could receive billions of euros from the bloc’s pandemic relief fund amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He added at the time: “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.”

According to Poland's governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, the bill would change rules for disciplining judges and testing their independence, in line with the expectations of the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union of which Poland has been part since 2004.

Officials have told reporters that the 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 Poland's National Recovery Plan. 

The Polish president said last month that the country should receive pandemic relief funding from the EU, and that he would support measures designed to help make it possible, but added that "such proposals must comply with the Polish constitution.”  


Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info

Click on the audio player above for a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.