Budapest Post

Cum Deo pro Patria et Libertate
Budapest, Europe and world news

Poland waves white flag in EU rule of law dispute

Poland waves white flag in EU rule of law dispute

Warsaw wants rapid changes to the courts in a bid to unlock €35 billion in EU cash.

Money talks.

Faced with the prospect of losing billions in EU cash and increasingly desperate to turn around sagging opinion polls ahead of next year’s election, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party on Wednesday signaled a retreat on long-running judicial disputes that have soured relations between Warsaw and Brussels.

“We don’t have time for tug-of-war [with the Commission]. I have appealed to the opposition to start working on the proposed law as fast as possible,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a press briefing Wednesday.

A draft law presented to the Polish parliament late Tuesday would implement a reform that Brussels has long sought. The idea would be to move judicial disciplinary matters from a special chamber in the Supreme Court, which is seen as influenced by the government, to another top court, the Supreme Court of Administration, which is viewed as being more independent. 

The draft law would also end sanctions against judges who raise questions about the status of fellow judges — a touchy issue in Poland as many recently appointed judges have dubious legal status.

Poland’s Minister of European Affairs Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said those changes were negotiated in Brussels with the Commission.

“If this project is adopted, it will be tantamount — this is the declaration from the [European Commission] — to the release of funds for Poland,” said government spokesperson Piotr Müller.

Judicial independence and the use of disciplinary measures to punish judges who spoke out against the government’s judicial reforms are at the heart of the rule-of-law dispute between Poland and the EU.

The government argued that deep reforms were needed to make Polish courts more efficient, accessible, and cleansed of communist-era judges. Critics saw the legal changes, which started in late 2015, as an effort to put the courts under tighter political control.

As a result, the European Commission has held up €35 billion in grants and loans from the pandemic recovery fund, and the Court of Justice of the EU last year imposed a €1 million a day fine for not complying with an EU court order to suspend the country’s controversial disciplinary mechanism for judges.

Even Morawiecki has admitted in a recent interview that the result is a mess: “We probably couldn’t have more chaos and trouble in the judiciary than we currently have.”

Poland attempted to backtrack five months ago, but the largely cosmetic reforms did little but change the name of the disciplinary chamber, and weren’t enough for the Commission to agree to unblock the desperately needed EU cash.


Political brinksmanship


Getting EU approval to disburse the frozen funds, however, means the bill has to make it through both chambers of parliament and then be signed by President Andrzej Duda, and that’s not a done deal.

The government has a razor-thin majority in parliament, and needs the votes of its far-right junior coalition partner, United Poland, to pass the measure. But the party, led by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, the architect of the reforms, a hard-line euroskeptic and Morawiecki’s political rival, wants to delay a decision on whether to support the bill.

Ziobro has blasted proposed compromises with Brussels as “blackmail.”

“I don’t know whether United Poland will vote in favor,” Morawiecki said in a radio interview. “United Poland’s leadership has asked for a few days for consideration.”

That’s why Morawiecki is asking the opposition for help in moving the legislation forward, but those parties are loath to rush and aid the government.

“We are ready to work, but it will not be done in a fast-track mode. I think there is time for that next week,” said Borys Budka, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Civic Platform party.

A demonstration in Warsaw in 2021 against a law voted at the Polish parliament against media freedom


“We will do everything to obtain funds from the EU … but we must not forget who bears the responsibility that we don’t have this money yet,” Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader of the opposition agrarian Polish People’s Party, told reporters in parliament on Wednesday.

But the government is ignoring those qualms from the opposition, and aims to race the bill through parliament. The first reading of the legislation has been scheduled for Thursday, PiS spokesperson Rafał Bochenek said on Wednesday, with the second and the final third reading taking place on Tuesday.

There are also doubts that switching to the Supreme Court of Administration is in line with the Polish constitution, but Morawiecki said he is certain of the legality of the measure.

Some observers doubt whether the proposed changes are in line with the Commission’s criteria.

Laurent Pech, a law professor at University College Dublin, called the bill a “joke” that doesn’t meet the demands of the Commission and the Court of Justice.

Jakub Jaraczewski, a research coordinator for Democracy Reporting International, a Berlin-based NGO, said: “The Commission should wait to see the final text of the law, but as it stands, the proposed legislation fails to meet the recovery fund milestones Poland agreed with the Commission earlier this year.” 

The opposition is having a difficult time concealing its glee at the government’s difficulties.

“Don’t get upset buddy. These are good changes,” Civic Platform leader and former European Council President Donald Tusk ribbed Morawiecki. “There is no need to go on your knees to Brussels.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

Budapest Post
Close
0:00
0:00
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
Tennessee Bill Would Imprison People for 3 Years If They 'Lie' About Rape to Get an Abortion.
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
Shell reports highest profits in 115 years
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Hungary ready to sue EU over cuts to Erasmus funding
EU against democracy: Hungary's mail-in poll on Russia sanctions dismissed by Brussels
2023 - The Year of the Rabbit
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Dirty bomb fears as URANIUM is found in cargo at Heathrow
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
×