Crime & Justice

Polish Sejm votes against amendments to judicial reform to unlock EU funds

Warsaw, Jun 9 (EFE).- The lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, voted Thursday against most of the amendments to the judicial system proposed by the Senate in a bid to unlock European Union funds.

The reform of the judicial system, which includes the abolition of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, is now in the hands of Polish president Andrzej Duda, who will decide whether to ratify the legislation.

The reform was one of the conditions imposed by the European Commission (EC) for Poland to access its share of the €36 billion NextGenerationEU fund, a package to support EU member states to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sejm had already approved the draft on May 26, but after the initial vote, the upper house proposed another 29 amendments, most of which were rejected by the conservative coalition that holds the majority in the lower house.

The reform was proposed by president Duda himself, as a compromise to resolve the long-running dispute with the EC over the rule of law in Poland.

The main dispute between Warsaw and Brussels is over the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, created in 2017, which has the power to sanction magistrates. The EU says the chamber restricts the independence of Polish judges.

In July last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that Poland had to suspend the chamber’s activities, and in late October started fining Warsaw €1 million per day for failing to implement the ruling.

Duda’s proposal abolishes the Disciplinary Chamber and replaces it with a new body – the Professional Liability Chamber – whose members are elected through a different procedure.

The new proposal has come under fire from the opposition, which argues that the reform simply replaces the Disciplinary Chamber with a similar body and thus fails to meet EC requirements. EFE


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