No justice reform in Poland, no money, EU chief vows

Jun 7, 2022, 9:50 AM | Updated: 10:12 am
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a joint news conference with Polan...

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a joint news conference with Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Polish President Andrzej Duda at the headquarters of Poland's Power Grid in Konstancin-Jeziorna, Poland, Thursday, June 2, 2022. The independence of Poland's courts is at the heart of a dispute with the European Union, which has withheld billions of euros in pandemic recovery funds. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

(AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s chief executive vowed Tuesday that Poland would get no money from the bloc’s vast pandemic relief fund until the right-wing government rolls back measures deemed to limit the independence of the country’s judiciary.

Poland is line to receive nearly 36 billion euros ($38.5 billion) to help its economy recover from the impact of measures introduced to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But the EU has frozen its access to the funds amid concern about political interference with the judiciary.

The European Commission, which proposes EU laws and supervises the way they are enacted, insists that a disciplinary chamber for Polish judges be abolished, that its rulebook be rewritten and that judges sanctioned by the chamber have their cases reviewed.

“Let me be very clear. These three commitments, translated into milestones, must be fulfilled before any payment can be made,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France.

The European Parliament has also launched action against Poland over democratic backsliding. The lawmakers have criticized von der Leyen and her commission for being too slow to act. Some are calling for a no-confidence vote on her should the commission release any funds too early.

“I know that some of you are skeptical, but let me assure that no money will be disbursed until these reforms are undertaken,” von der Leyen said. “A first payment will only be possible when a new law is in force that ticks all the boxes under this contract,” she said of a plan for Poland to access the funds.

Von der Leyen added that “Poland must demonstrate by the end of 2023 that all unlawfully dismissed judges have been reinstated. If this is not the case there cannot be any further disbursement.”

Poland’s lawmakers are still working on changing Supreme Court regulations to abolish the disciplinary chamber. Only one of the dozens of suspended judges has been reinstated, but to a different section in his court, and has been ordered to go on leave.

Many EU lawmakers argued that Poland should have met the conditions before its action plan for access to the recovery fund was submitted. Even some senior members of von der Leyen’s own commission had reservations about the Polish plan.

Dutch liberal parliamentarian, Sophia In’t Veld, said the commission’s conditions are merely “a smokescreen.” Facing von der Leyen, she said: “If you make any payment to Poland without all the criteria having been fully met, you lose my confidence. It’s democracy.”

Poland’s pandemic recovery plan must still be endorsed by the other 26 EU member states before the end of the month. It would pave the way for government to eventually gain access to 23.9 billion euros ($25.4 billion) in grants and 11.5 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in loans.

EU officials have said that Poland is unlikely to win access to any of the money for several months.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Mississippi justices block more DNA tests in death row case

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that a death row inmate will not be allowed to seek additional DNA testing on crime scene evidence from the shooting deaths of two college students nearly 30 years ago. Willie Jerome Manning, now 54, remains in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. He was […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

UK military investigates hacks on Army social media accounts

LONDON (AP) — British military authorities are trying to find out who hacked the army’s social media accounts over the weekend, flooding them with cryptocurrency videos and posts related to collectible electronic art. The investigation was launched after authorized content on the army’s YouTube account was replaced with a video feed promoting cryptocurrencies that included […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

NASA satellite breaks from orbit around Earth, heads to moon

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A satellite the size of a microwave oven successfully broke free from its orbit around Earth on Monday and is headed toward the moon, the latest step in NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the lunar surface again. It’s been an unusual journey already for the Capstone satellite. It was […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

It’s a new era for funding on both sides of abortion debate

NEW YORK (AP) — The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has ushered in a new era of funding on both sides of the abortion debate. With the legality of abortion now up to individual states to determine, an issue long debated by legislators and philanthropists — when it was largely theoretical because only […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Top NGO calls Switzerland ‘safe haven’ for Russian oligarchs

LUGANO, Switzerland (AP) — A leading Swiss nongovernmental group on Monday called out Switzerland as a “safe haven” for Russian oligarchs and as a trading hub for Russian oil, grain and coal. Public Eye urged the Swiss executive branch to “use all levers at its disposal to stop the financing of this inhuman aggression,” in […]
5 hours ago
Some 25 tractors parked outside a distribution center for supermarket chain Albert Heijn during a b...
Associated Press

Dutch farmers block entrances to supermarket warehouses

ZAANDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch farmers angry at government plans to slash emissions used tractors and trucks Monday to blockade supermarket distribution centers, the latest actions in a summer of discontent in the country’s lucrative agricultural sector. The Netherlands’ busiest aviation hub, Schiphol Airport, urged travelers to use public transport to get to its terminals […]
5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
No justice reform in Poland, no money, EU chief vows