Brussels unblocks Polish recovery fund on questionable judicial reforms

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College of Commissioners of The European Union Approved this Friday after half a year blockade recovery and resilience planning from Poland, potentially unlocking the phased distribution of Over 35,000 million euros in transfers and loans To revive our economy from the ravages of the pandemic.

Some members, such as Spain, have already received three disbursements after following procedures, reforms and agreed milestones. Others, such as the Netherlands, have yet to submit theirs, as they are still negotiating after the last elections. But there were two exceptional cases, controversial and very delicate: Hungara You PolandThose who, after completing their plans, had not yet received the green light from the commission because of their problems with the judiciary.

Tension has been building for years. The Commission considers, or believes, that the various laws adopted in both countries, and the decisions of the executive in Warsaw and Budapest, do not guarantee an independent, independent and operative judiciary. And, since it is necessary to guarantee the correct use of community funds, they blocked the process. In fact, an open conflict process is underway, and it is to be hoped that at any moment the European Commission Hungary’s Structural and Reconciliation Fund cutsbecause the call has already been activated rule of lawA recently created tool that allows Brussels to act by force when the rule of law is under threat.

Poland has more than half a dozen serious litigation, EU Court decisions and a political battle with the Commission. But still, the chairman of the commission, Ursula von der LeyenThe issue of recovery plan has been taken to the college on this Wednesday and despite the opposition of half a dozen members including its two vice-presidents, it has got approval. The Six, along with the European Parliament and a significant part of the Polish opposition, believe the underlying problems have not been resolved and promises Warsaw, which in principle has launched a review to eliminate a supervisory chamber of judges, They are not reliable but they have lost.

The matter is much deeper now. Poland He is the one who has the most problems and who has most clearly interfered with the independence of the judiciary, but It is also the country most involved in the Ukrainian crisis, opening its doors to millions of refugees, sending humanitarian and military aid, coordinating the passage of weapons through its territory and emphasizing Moscow’s energy disconnection. And not only that, but it broke away from Hungary, breaking the Visegrad axis.

With last European summit great Viktor Orban finding it difficult for Brussels to understand itself An analogous waiver on Russian oil embargoBut they have found a way to do it with Warsaw, especially since last summer. crisis with belarus With the arrival of asylum seekers across their borders.

The doubts are many, growing and serious. “The approval of this plan is linked to clear commitments from Poland on the independence of the judiciary, which must be met before any real payments can be made. I look forward to the implementation of these reforms,” ​​the German said on Wednesday. ,

Poland and Ukrainian War

However, Spaniard Juan Fernando López Aguilar, chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and the Interior, has already requested the presence of von der Leyen and the commissioners responsible for the European Fund and the rule of law, so that they can explain, because They believe that the legal discrepancies would not only be enough to keep the scheme going without approval, but also that they should have been enough to freeze all funds under the rule of law.

“Giving ‘OK’ to the Polish recovery plan in light of a presidential bill that solves nothing in terms of judicial independence and recycle violations of the rules ‘Fix’ the EU based on political blackmail, contempt of the rule of law and democratic principles“condemns eliza rutinoskaCitizens Development Forum. “I am very curious to know what guarantees the Commission will have that once the final euro of the recovery plan is paid out, the new law of the Supreme Court of Poland in its politically compromised Constitutional Court to find out Will not take for granted that this law is incompatible with the Constitution,” says Jacob Jarazewski, a researcher at Democracy Reporting International.

Von der Leyen argues that Poland has made progress, has recognized the errors and, in any case, approving the scheme means only making the first disbursement, the so-called pre-financing. But for all others, it will have to adhere to the milestones and reforms contemplated in the plan, which include more guarantees in judicial matters. And if you don’t, there will be no money. Because in some phases the vote of other countries is necessary. “The Commission has assessed Poland’s plan based on the criteria set out in the regulation. Poland’s plan includes milestones related to important aspects of the independence of the judiciary, improving the investment climate and establishing conditions for a are of particular importance for the effective implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan. Poland needs to demonstrate that these milestones have been met prior to any disbursements,” said the statement published on Wednesday.

Time It was sought by both sides just before President von der Leyen’s visit to the country. Last week the Polish lower house approved a legislative change proposed by President Andrzej Duda. The assurances the government makes, and the commission accepts, is that the legislative proposal, which must pass through the Senate process, would dismantle the controversial disciplinary chamber of judges, improve disciplinary governance and result in dismissed magistrates. will allow reinstatement. disciplinary criminal proceedings.

But critics and opposition condemn that the law is only a cosmetic change, that judges will continue to be elected by a general council that is not independent and that Brussels has criticized in the past, for which It means closing one’s eyes to the open interference of the executive., “The plan includes a comprehensive reform of the disciplinary system applied to Polish judges, which is expected to strengthen important aspects of the independence of the judiciary. Such reforms must meet the following commitments: resolved all disciplinary cases against judges A court, distinct from the current Disciplinary Chamber, that meets the requirements of EU law in conformity with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice and is, therefore, independent, impartial and established by law”, the Commission in its formality on this Wednesday Says plan.

“Judges cannot be subject to disciplinary responsibility for the content of their judicial decisions, or for submitting a request for preliminary judgment to a court to verify whether another court is independent, impartial and established by law; Rights of the parties to disciplinary proceedings; all judges affected by previous sentences of the Disciplinary Chamber shall have the right to have these sentences reviewed without delay by a court that meets EU requirements and is, therefore, independent, impartial and established by law”. Commissions abound.

“The Commission has approved the recovery plan for Poland as it wants send a message of political unity to Putin’s aggression, This is understandable, but ambiguous. Apart from the war in Ukraine, nothing has changed in Poland since I applied for the money,” explains Camino Mortera of the Center for European Reform in Brussels. “The way the recovery fund is designed is fantastic. . It is conditioned for the achievement of milestones and goals. Recovery money is, in my opinion, a far more effective lobbying system on issues of the rule of law than a conditional mechanism like ‘lex specialis’. The Commission should have used that leverage with Poland more wisely. It has received no concessions from the Polish government and A significant currency is lost in the short- to medium-term”, Ade la Investigadora.

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