During the conversation between President Andrzej Duda and the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in February, there were no objections to the draft amendment on the Supreme Court, which is why the latest statement from the head of the European Commission is astonishing; that there are such strong arguments at this stage – Presidential Minister Małgorzata Paprocka told PAP.
Paprocka stressed that no further legislative project related to Supreme Court changes is underway in the President’s Office at this time. “The elements that the president wanted to regulate were regulated by the passed law” – she noted.
On Tuesday, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told DGP that in order to receive funds from the National Reconstruction Plan, Poland must honor the commitments made to reform the system of disciplinary measures. She admitted that the new law is an important step, but “the new law (amendment to the Supreme Court Act – PAP) does not guarantee judges the ability to challenge the status of another judge without risking disciplinary action.” posed. action.” Von der Leyen stressed that Poland must also fully comply with the ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU, which has not yet happened. “In particular, the suspended judges have not recovered and the daily financial fine is still in force. We are in contact with the Polish authorities about these issues and we want to find a solution” – she added.
“This statement is astonishing, since the presidential bill was submitted to the Sejm in February and there was time during these few months to get acquainted with this bill” – this is how the minister of the president, Małgorzata Paprocka, commented on the words of the head of the European Commission in an interview with PAP. She found it “very disturbing” that “there were such strong arguments at this stage.”
She stressed that the law on amendments to the Supreme Court was passed and came into effect on July 15, in the terms originally proposed by the president. As she noted, the minor corrections made to the proposal “in no way changed the essence of the assumptions” of the proposal.
Referring to von der Leyen’s words that “the new law does not allow judges to question the status of another judge without risking being held liable for disciplinary action,” Paprocka emphasized that – according to the Polish constitution – judges irremovable. “So there’s no way to check the status at all,” she said.
As she noted, this is confirmed not only by the rulings of our courts, ie the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, but also by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgments. “The exercise by the president of the prerogative to appoint a judge is in no way under discussion by the CJEU,” she added.
“I have the impression that there is a certain confusion of concepts here. It is one thing to test the impartiality, independence of (a judge), which is allowed by the three instruments that we have in the legal order, but to of a judge is very different. The judge appointed by the president at the request of the National Council of the Judiciary is a judge and this derives directly from the constitution “- stated the minister in the KPRP. “As I said, it has never been questioned by the CJEU, so the question is how accurate this statement (from the head of the European Commission) is” – she added.
“The second issue – there are no provisions in the Polish legal system in which the examination of the impartiality and independence of judges would be subject to sanctions for judges. (…) This issue requires a really thorough discussion and explanation, because the concepts are completely confused” – she noted.
Asked about von der Leyen’s words that the suspended judges would not be reinstated, Paprocka noted that the amendment to the Supreme Court’s law clearly states that “all interim measures applied will be verified at the first session of the Appeals Chamber.” . As she recalled, with the entry into force of the Act, the Disciplinary Chamber was abolished and is now replaced by the Chamber of Professional Responsibility.
“The whole process has gone on without any interruption so far. From the perspective of the President’s Chancellery, we have no reason to fear that the law will not be implemented. … after all, the judges will act in accordance with the regulations, we have no reason to believe that it will be otherwise “- she emphasized.
It also noted that abolishing the effects of court decisions by law would be an action contrary to the Polish Constitution and contrary to the tripartite division of powers. “What is the basis for presuming that these measures have been incorrectly applied? There is a verification path. The Chamber of Professional Responsibility will consider it ex officio at the first meeting” – she noted.
In this regard, she referred to art. 9 of the amendment to the Supreme Court Act, which states that: in disciplinary cases that fall under the jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Chamber, “The Professional Liability Chamber, ex officio, during the first session of the case, examines the suspension of the execution of the judge against whom a proceedings have been instituted by the Disciplinary Chamber disciplinary proceedings or in respect of whom a resolution has been issued authorizing prosecution and reduction of a judge’s remuneration or salary for the duration of the judge’s suspension from official duties or disciplinary proceedings”.
Paprocka, referring to von der Leyen’s words, indicated, among other things, that “the allegations appear after several months of discussion on this topic”. “I emphasize clearly that the President’s Chancellery has not participated in discussions with the Commission in this regard,” she added.
Paprocka noted that Andrzej Duda spoke to the head of the European Commission about the presidential draft changes to the Supreme Court in February, Paprocka confirmed and noted that she was present at the meeting with the president of the European Commission in Brussels. “It took place after the president submitted the project, the main assumptions were presented” – she added. When asked whether there were any objections from the head of the European Commission against this project during the conversation, the minister denied. She also stressed that the president presented the basic principles of the law to the head of the European Commission, referring to “the key issues from the European Commission’s perspective”.
When asked whether the KPRP is still considering a draft amendment to the SN law, Paprocka replied that “at the moment no such bill is being worked on in the Chancellery”. “The elements that the president wanted to solve were regulated by the passed law” – she judged.
As she said, “The Disciplinary Chamber has been liquidated and the following cases are pending, it is a matter of the coming weeks for the Professional Responsibility Chamber to be formed and to take actions provided for in the law.” “So in this regard, in the opinion of the Chancellery, no legislative changes are necessary in any way” – she ruled.
On July 15, an amendment to the Supreme Court Act by the president went into effect, according to which the Disciplinary Chamber ceased to exist and was replaced by the Chamber of Appeals Responsibility. Andrzej Duda – who sent the project to the Sejm in February – stressed that the aim is to restore the functioning of the justice system in our country and to “give the government an instrument” to end the dispute with the European Commission and National Reconstruction Unblock Plan. The European Commission expected changes to the Supreme Court in connection with the CJEU ruling of July last year. It obliged Poland to immediately suspend the provisions relating to the powers of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber in cases such as the waiver of judges’ immunity. For non-compliance with this decision, the CJEU later fined Poland 1 million euros per day. EC incl. it made the approval of the National Reconstruction Plan and the payment of money to Poland from the Reconstruction Fund dependent on the changes in this regard.