(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
Poland's first payment of EU recovery funds risks being delayed
after the European Commission detected one key element missing from
the country's proposed judicial reforms, Trend reports citing
The reforms centre on the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme
Court, a controversial body that is largely seen as a tool of
government encroachment upon the judiciary and that the European
Court of Justice (ECJ) has deemed incompatible with EU law.
The chamber has the power to punish judges for the content of
their rulings, for asking questions to the European Court of
Justice and for verifying that other courts are independent and
Potential penalties include fines, salary cuts, suspension and
waiver of immunity.
Warsaw is expected to reform the chamber and put in place a new
body in line with EU standards.
'We're still assessing the new law on the disciplinary regime,
so no final conclusion is possible today,' said Ursula von der
Leyen, president of the European Commission, on Friday
'But I can already say that this new law is not ensuring that
judges are able to question the status of another judge without
risking being subject to disciplinary offence.'
'That is a requirement that is needed, so this issue still has
to be addressed,' she added.
'We're not done with the assessment of the whole law but we see
that this part is already missing.'
Over the past years, Brussels repeatedly asked Poland to
dismantle the chamber and comply with ECJ rulings. The standoff led
to the blockage of the country's €35-billion recovery plan.
Warsaw eventually relented and agreed to reform the disciplinary
regime as part of a deal to unlock the funds.
Polish President Andrzej Duda proposed a replacement to
supervise magistrates, the Chamber of Professional Responsibility,
that was endorsed last month by the Polish parliament.
Legal experts have warned the new body would still grant the
executive too much power over the judiciary.
Warsaw was initially given until the end of the second quarter
-- that is, end of June -- to reform the disciplinary regime and
install a substitute aligned with EU law.
But, as von der Leyen pointedly noted, the Commission has
already noticed the new chamber would still allow judges to be
punished if they carry checks on their peers -- a red line for the
A similar warning was issued yesterday by Věra Jourová, the
Commission's vice-president in charge of values and
Although the first deadline has now passed, Poland still has
time to make the necessary changes to comply with the Commission's
demands. But this additional tweak will likely delay the first
disbursement of EU recovery funds, expected to be worth slightly
over €4 billion.
Poland can't make a formal request for payment until the
judicial reforms have been fully implemented.
However, the deal between Brussels and Warsaw has been
criticised for containing loopholes and insufficient guarantees to
restore the rule of law.
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