Lawmakers eye reforms to unlock EU funding

20 May 2022

Poland’s ruling coalition lawmakers have agreed to judicial reforms that will free billions of Euros in EU funding, according to the government.

The funding will boost the economy dealing with the impact of the Covid crisis and the war in Ukraine.

More than €35 billion of Covid-recovery grants and loans have been halted due to a disagreement with Brussels over the rule of law, Reuters reports. However, Warsaw said it had come to an agreement to unlock the funds and hopes for EU approval within a matter of days.

Key to this is the judicial reform bill agreed on Thursday. Lawmakers used proposals from President Andrzej Duda as the foundation of the reforms. However, the United Poland party – a junior partner in government – opposed an impartiality test for judges which it said could paralyse the system.

According to the PAP news agency, an article was removed that would have permitted verdicts already handed down to later be challenged on impartiality grounds.

Remaining in the bill are provisions for an independence test for judges in uncompleted cases. Moreover, due to a United Poland amendment, a prelude in reference to the Polish constitution over norms set out by international organisations like the EU was also added.

"I am very glad that the commission has adopted the president's... draft bill," Duda's representative Malgorzata Paprocka commented. "I hope that the end is in sight and it will soon become binding law."

The bill would substitute the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, the Reuters report goes on to add.

However, the EU says Warsaw needs to implement a ruling from the bloc’s high court to dissolve the chamber to obtain the funding. Failure to do this has resulted in fines of €1 million a day for Poland.

Parliament could vote on the bill before the end of May.