Poland ‘isn’t there yet’ to backtrack on judicial reforms to get EU money – POLITICO
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday that Poland did not yet meet the rule of law requirements to receive European pandemic recovery funds.
Poland and the Commission have been at an impasse for months over the release of 36 billion euros in loans and grants from the EU’s coronavirus recovery programme. The money was originally due to be approved in July, but was held back over fears sweeping changes to Warsaw’s judicial system would violate EU democratic standards.
For the funds to be released, von der Leyen said, the government of Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice party still has to meet three criteria that have been set out in rulings by the EU Court of Justice.
“We’re not there yet, just to be clear. We are close, but we are not there yet,” she said, answering questions from members of the European Parliament.
The first criterion Poland must meet is the dismantling of a controversial judicial disciplinary chamber within the country’s Supreme Court, which has long been the subject of contention between Brussels and Warsaw. The second criterion is the reform of a disciplinary regime for judges, and the third is the reinstatement of illegally dismissed judges, von der Leyen told MPs.
Poland is already being fined a million euros a day for refusing to freeze the work of the newly created disciplinary chamber until the bloc’s highest court decides whether it complies with EU law. EU.
There are some indications of flexibility in Warsaw, where parliament is working on legislation proposed by President Andrzej Duda that would meet some, but not all, of the EU’s demands. However, it has not yet been approved.
“We want this reform to be done, and the best way to do this reform is to have a law that has been passed by parliament,” von der Leyen said. If the law is fit for purpose and meets the criteria, disbursement of funds can proceed, she added.
On Monday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he did not expect an agreement on the release of European funds this month, but “hoped” that an agreement could be reached with the Commission in the weeks to come. to come.
Poland pleads for EU flexibility, saying the country stands to gain a favorable following thanks to hosting more than 2 million refugees fleeing war in Ukraine.
But the Commission refuses to link the two issues.
Von der Leyen will be in Warsaw on Saturday to attend a Stand Up For Ukraine event, which will raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.
Zosia Wanat contributed reporting.