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"Final analyses took less time than expected. The act is now to be published" – The President’s chief of staff Paweł Szrot wrote on Twitter on Monday, informing the public that Andrzej Duda has signed a long-anticipated bill dismantling the contested Disciplinary Chamber for judges.
The final shape of the presidential bill was decided by the Polish Parliament on Thursday. Members of the ruling Law and Justice party and Kukiz'15 MPs rejected most of the amendments submitted by opposition senators. Instead, certain elements were modified in accordance with the expectations of Zbigniew Ziobro's United Poland party.
Both the President and the Law and Justice party hope that the bill will lead to unlocking EUR 23.9 billion in subsidies and EUR 11.5 billion in cheap loans under the Polish Recovery and Resilience Plan. Brussels was holding back on releasing the funds when the Polish government failed to implement last year's Court of Justice of the EU rulings on the Disciplinary Chamber.
Ruling camp officials suggest that the EU money had nothing to do with their decision- "We wanted to introduce these reforms anyway", they claim. Similarly, President Duda says that his main goal is to improve the functioning of the Supreme Court, even if it was he who created the Disciplinary Chamber in 2017 in the first place.
Now, the European Commission will assess whether the reform is in accordance with the rule of law "milestones" set in the National Recovery Plan. But while the President and the ruling party believe that it does, the opposition and NGOs monitoring the rule of law beg to differ.
- The "let's do something and see if it works" approach may pay off. And so far, it looks like it does – Dr. Maciej Taborowski, an EU law expert, said about the presidential bill. He emphasized that it is on the Commission to interpret whether the conditions are met.
- The conditions are formulated in quite general terms and allow for various interpretations. We have to be aware that the decision to release the funds will also be largely political - he added.
The law will come into force 30 days after its announcement in the official journal.
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