Poland could retaliate against the European Union if they don’t pay its pandemic recovery fund share. This was after Brussels indicated that it wasn’t satisfied with Warsaw’s latest judicial reforms.
Due to a dispute about the Polish judiciary reforms, which the EU executive claims subvert democratic standards, more than EUR35 billion ($36bn), of COVID-19 loan and recovery grants were put on hold.
The European Commission approved funding for Poland in June. However, Ursula von der Leyen, its head, stated that more work was needed on the rule of the law during a meeting with Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish Prime Minister.
Law and Justice (PiS), the ruling party, stated that its reforms are designed to improve the efficiency of the system and denies any interference with the courts for political gain.
“If there’s an attempt to block payment… and the European Commission attempts to pressure us, then it is our only choice but to pull all the cannons out of our arsenal and respond to with barrage fire,” KrzysztofSobolewski (PiS secretary general) told Polish public radio.
PiS hasn’t yet indicated what actions it might be considering.
Poland passed a May law that replaced the controversial disciplinary chamber for judges by a new body. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court selected candidates from its judges to join the new chamber.
In an interview, von der Leyen stated at the end July that the new law didn’t give judges the right of questioning judicial appointments without being subject to disciplinary proceedings. This issue should be resolved in order to access EU funds.
Arianna Podesta, spokesperson for the Commission, stated that the new law was a significant step. However, the EU’s initial assessment indicated that the EU does not permit judges to question the status or competence of another judge without triggering disciplinary proceedings.
Podesta stated that “this issue… must be addressed in order for the recovery plan commitments and resilience plan obligations to be met… No formal assessment has been made because there hasn’t been a payment request from Poland so far.”
Opposition politicians have been critical of Warsaw’s refusal on EU demands regarding the rule of law. They believe that PiS might eventually try to remove Poland from the bloc. This is something that the government has denied.
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