WARSAW, Feb. 11 (AP) – Polish President Andrzej Duda said Friday he is introducing a controversial new law on judicial accountability for constitutional review, not rejecting it , as it could help unfreeze billions in EU funds earmarked for Poland.
Brussels suspended pandemic recovery funding to Warsaw, saying the government’s policy of exerting control over the judiciary, especially through the Supreme Court, violated democratic principles.
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The European Union has called for necessary reforms before Poland receives more than 35 billion euros in grants and loans. Some of the changes previously proposed by Poland were not enough for the EU.
Existing laws aim to amend them, but the EU’s response is still to be heard.
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In a televised address, Duda said he understood the urgency of the matter but needed to ensure the new law – which was approved by parliament on Wednesday but was criticized by the opposition and some judges – was constitutional before he approved it.
“I have always been and still am a supporter of compromise,” Duda said.
“I hope that the (recovery) funds will be available as soon as possible, because they are necessary for the growth of the Polish economy,” he said. “That’s why I decided not to veto this revised law.”
Duda, who has the power to appoint judges, expressed reservations about the new bill and referred it to the Supreme Constitutional Court. Courts have repeatedly upheld government-proposed legislation, including bills generally seen as controversial.
After months of negotiations, the government proposed changes that would remove the Supreme Court’s controversial power to punish and suspend judges, one of Poland’s so-called “milestones” in agreeing to a conference to receive recovery funds.
Duda argued that bringing the bill to court would not delay efforts to release EU funds for Poland because there were other “milestones” to be met. He called on the court to act quickly.
The bill has been criticized in Poland, including in the judiciary, with some arguing that it does not comply with the country’s legal system. But the right-wing ruling coalition insists it is a compromise that should lead to the release of funds, a process they say will take months.
The new regulations shift the disciplinary and immunity process for judges from the Supreme Court to the main administrative courts. They also expand the possibilities for both parties to scrutinize judicial independence and authority in court trials.
Other “milestones” that Poland needs to reach before releasing EU funds include a bill that should ease permits for wind turbine installations. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)