Poland’s president proposes bill to end rule of law row with EU

The new legislation will dismantle a controversial disciplinary chamber for judges that was at the centre of a dispute with Brussels.

Duda speaks during a news conference
Duda said the judges from the scrapped disciplinary chamber could either retire or be moved to other Supreme Court chambers [File: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP]

Polish President Andrzej Duda has submitted legislation to dismantle a controversial disciplinary chamber for judges, hoping it would allow the government to end a dispute about the rule of law with Brussels and unblock European Union funding.

Last October, the EU’s top court ruled Poland must pay one million euros ($1.13m) a day in fines for maintaining the disciplinary chamber for judges set up by the conservative nationalist Warsaw government.

Duda said on Thursday his bill would mean the chamber would be scrapped and its judges could either retire or be moved to other Supreme Court chambers.

Disciplinary cases would be heard by a new panel composed of 11 Supreme Court judges chosen through a draw.

“This bill … is due to give the Polish government an instrument to end the row with the European Commission and unblock the national recovery and resilience [funds],” Duda said.

The bill is now expected to be sent to the lower house of parliament for discussion.

Chaos in the judiciary

A Polish group representing judges said the bill would do little to solve issues around politicised appointments of judges under the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party and would worsen chaos in the judiciary.

“European tribunals have clearly said that judges appointed by the new National Council of the Judiciary cannot adjudicate,” Polish Judges Association spokesman Bartlomiej Przymusinski told the Reuters news agency.

“The essence of this bill is that they will all stay in the Supreme Court.”

Since coming to power in 2015, the PiS has ushered in a series of judiciary reforms that critics, including the European Union’s executive, have said may harm the independence of the courts.

Source: News Agencies