Poland’s parliament did not begin debating a judicial Reform bill on Thursday (15 December). The ruling party hoped that the bill would allow COVID-19 funds to be released by Brussels. This was in a dispute about the rule of law following concerns from the president.
The long-running dispute between Poland and the European Union regarding the independence of its courts has been ongoing. On Tuesday (13 December), the Polish government said that it had reached an agreement with Brussels to release billions of dollars, which economists consider crucial for an economy devastated by the conflict in Ukraine.
After President Andrzej Duba struck a cautious tone regarding the bill, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), said that it would be removed from the agenda of a parliamentary sitting this Thursday, casting doubt on its future.
Rafal Bochenek, party spokesperson, said: “In connection with President Andrzej Duba’s appeal, Speaker Elzbieta Witek decided to take the bill regarding changes in the judiciary of the agenda.
“We believe such an important act needs in-depth discussion.”
Duda, an ally to the ruling party, said earlier that he would evaluate the bill’s conformity with the constitution “but also consider Poland’s sovereign rights to shape the justice systems in the way we want it to”.
In order to address concerns that judges had been punished for criticizing the government’s judicial reforms, the amendments would see the Supreme Administrative Court deal with disciplinary cases.
Judges who question the independence of their colleagues appointed by critics as being politicized would not be subject to disciplinary action.
Duda opposed previously any measure that would allow judges to question the legitimacy or competence of their colleagues.
He stated that he would not permit any law to be brought into the Polish legal systems that would weaken these nominations or allow for verification of presidential nominees.
A junior partner in government has said it will vote against the latest set of judicial reforms. It claims that the reforms are detrimental to Poland’s sovereignty.
Opposition lawmakers would need to support the bill’s passage. They have stated that they will review it but it can’t be passed quickly through parliament.
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