On Friday, the government spokesperson announced that a formal approval should be given in the coming days or several days KPO† As he reported, the work of the negotiating teams on the matter was completed on Wednesday. He added that Poland and the European Commission have agreed on the milestones discussed during the negotiations.
On Saturday, during a press conference in Ustka Muller he was asked what exactly is in the milestones agreed with Brussels and whether the Polish government has committed to reinstate judges in those milestones.
A government spokesman said KPO milestones would be made public when the document was formally approved by Brussels. I can only say that, as we have stated before, we will reform the disciplinary procedures in the Polish judiciary. It appears from the agreements with the European Commission that this law, which is in the Sejm, meets the assumptions included in the KPO milestones – said Muller.
When asked about the individual stages of the KPO’s approval, the government spokesman said Poland is now awaiting formal approval from the College of EU Commissioners, which – he estimated – is a matter of a few or a dozen days. The EC then checks the successive milestones of various reforms that are included in the KPO. These include economic reforms related to information systems. One of the smallest reforms included in the FPA is the issue of the reform of disciplinary procedures. It is scheduled for the end of this quarter. After this quarter, the EC will check the milestones and pay out the funds. Depending on how quickly the European Commission verifies the milestones, the (disbursement of funds – PAP) should take place this summer said Muller.
He added that the bill pending by the Sejm mentions “the ability to re-verify subsequent court proceedings”, but that there is no “automatic reinstatement of judges”.
The President’s draft provides for the liquidation of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber; judges who rule therein would have the choice of moving to another chamber or retiring. A Chamber of Professional Responsibility would be established in the Supreme Court. Of all the judges of the Supreme Court, with the exception of e.g. the presidents of the chambers of the Supreme Court, 33 persons are randomly selected, among whom the president must elect 11 judges to compose the Chamber of Appeal for a term of office of five years . The draft proposes an institution known as the “test of a judge’s impartiality and independence,” which gives every citizen – as the president noted – the right to have their case examined by an impartial and independent court.
When will the Sejm make a decision on the Supreme Court?
On Friday, the head of the Justice Commission Marek Ast (PiS) reported on Polish Radio 24 that it is planning a committee meeting next week. He also expressed his belief that the draft liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber will be adopted at the next session of the Sejm, which is scheduled for the end of May.
The need for changes to the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber is related to the fact that in the summer of 2021 the Court of Justice of the EU obliged Poland to apply the provisions regarding the powers of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber in cases such as: waiver of the immunity of judges. For non-compliance with this decision, the CJEU imposed a fine on Poland of 1 million euros per day.
The European Commission has still not approved the National Reconstruction Plan, which was submitted by the government more than a year ago, namely a document describing how funds from the EU Reconstruction Fund are spent. At the end of October last year, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stipulated that the Polish KPO would take up an obligation from the government to liquidate the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber.
EC spokeswoman Veerle Nuyts told PAP on Wednesday that Poland’s National Reconstruction Plan must include commitments to: liquidate the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber, reform the disciplinary system, reinstate judges unlawfully dismissed. We have cooperated with Poland on all three points and are satisfied with the results of the interviews. Now we are waiting for confirmation from Poland – said Nuyts.