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    EC commissioners approve Poland’s plan of changes in judiciary system

    The EC commissioners are said to have accepted draft legislative changes in Poland’s judicial system currently regarded by Brussels as a threat to the rule of law, EU sources have told the Polish Press Agency.

    “The EC commissioners responsible for negotiations with Poland are said to have approved on Tuesday a draft of legislative changes regarding the country’s Supreme Court and to have considered it as meeting the requirements included in the so-called milestones linked with the National Recovery Programme,” PAP was told by EU sources on Tuesday.

    The milestones relate to steps the EC wants Poland to take to alter or withdraw changes it has made to the country’s judicial system the EU feels threaten the rule of law in Poland. Until this happens, Poland will remain locked out of the funding.

    The Polish government has said it has already taken sufficient steps and accused the EC of blocking Poland’s access to the funding for political reasons.

    One of the conditions set for Poland by the EC was the liquidation of a disciplinary chamber for judges at the Polish Supreme Court. In May, Poland adopted new legislation abolishing the panel, but in July a new body was set up at the Supreme Court called the Chamber of Professional Responsibility, whose judges are appointed by the president.

    Doubts as to whether the new chamber meets the rule of law milestones have been expressed recently by some representatives of the EC. Brussels would like to see further steps taken including the reinstatement of judges removed from adjudication by the original disciplinary chamber.

    The EC is also concerned that the new chamber may be just another “politically controlled” institution, similar to the body liquidated in May.

    Last Friday, the EC adopted so-called operational arrangements related to Poland’s National Recovery Plan, which outlines how the Polish government will spend the money. But these arrangements also set out the evidence needed to prove the milestones have been achieved.

    This would be another step in bringing Poland closer to EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in cheap loans from the bloc’s post-pandemic Recovery and Resilience Facility.

    Later in the day, European Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said that a draft amendment to the law on the Supreme Court would likely reach the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, still on Tuesday.

    The minister added that the draft would fulfil the key milestone required by the EC.

    According to Szynkowski vel Sęk, the draft will propose, among other things, that all disciplinary cases regarding judges should be reviewed by the Supreme Administrative Court instead of the Chamber of Professional Activity.

    “We have been glad to receive a report about today’s meeting of EC commissioners who have approved the negotiated guidelines and considered them as satisfactory,” Szynkowski vel Sęk said in the Sejm on Tuesday evening.

    “If the Sejm approves them, they will fulfil the milestone regarding the judiciary system, which is the key one for obtaining the funds from the National Recovery Programme,” the minister said.

    According to the minister, Poland managed to clear up a considerable part of all doubts without the necessity to introduce legislative changes.

    “Since the very beginning we have been declaring openness to changes on the condition that they do not violate the pillars of the state constitutional system,” the minister concluded.

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