Dispute over Poland’s judicial reform: Duda wants to replace the disciplinary body

Status: 03.02.2022 4:19 p.m

Poland’s President Duda gives in to the dispute with the EU over judicial reform: in a draft law he proposes dissolving the controversial disciplinary chamber. Critics consider this a ruse.

Is Poland’s Disciplinary Chamber on the brink of collapse? At least President Andrzej Duda has now presented a draft law that should initiate the abolition of the controversial institution. “I propose that this chamber be dissolved,” said the head of state. He hopes that this will end the dispute with the EU Commission.

Poland cannot afford a dispute with the European Commission at the moment, he justified his announcement. “Poland needs calm now, and in view of the tense international situation, we must stand together as a united force,” he said. The bill still needs to be approved by the Polish Parliament.

First announcement in August

The chamber is to be replaced by another body called the “Professional Responsibility Chamber” with eleven judges. According to the draft, judges currently serving in the Disciplinary Chamber would have the option to transfer to another Chamber of the Supreme Court or to retire.

As early as August, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is regarded as the most powerful man in Polish politics, announced that the body would soon be dissolved because it was not living up to expectations anyway. In fact, however, the institution continued to exist, even if it limited its activities to very few decisions.

One million euros fine every day

The Disciplinary Chamber is at the heart of Polish judicial reforms. It can punish and dismiss judges. The members of the Chamber are appointed by the politically controlled State Judicial Council. Critics see this as an attack on the independence of the judiciary. Against this background, a conflict has been brewing between the EU and Poland’s national conservative government for years.

The Commission believes that the body is inconsistent with common rule of law principles. Last July, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the chamber violated EU law. Since Poland did not abolish the facility even after this judgment, the ECJ ordered Warsaw in October to pay the EU Commission one million euros in fines every day. The government refused to pay the fine.

“A Fake Name Change”

Experts therefore see Dudas’ step as a ruse: “This bill is just an attempt to obtain EU funds by faking a name change while continuing to violate ECJ rulings,” wrote Laurent Pech, Professor of European Law at Middlesex University UK, on ​​Twitter.


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