Polish lawmakers approve law meant to help unlock EU funds

Feb 8, 2023, 2:10 PM | Updated: 2:45 pm

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday gave final approval to a new law on judicial accountability that the government believes will meet European Union expectations and help unfreeze billions of euros in pandemic recovery funds.

Brussels suspended the aid for Poland, saying the government’s policies of exerting control over the judiciary violate democratic principles. The EU has called for essential changes before Poland can be granted access to more than 35 billion euros ($37 billion) of EU grants and loans. Some previous changes proposed by Poland did not go far enough for the EU.

Following months of negotiations, the government proposed more changes that removed the controversial powers of the Supreme Court, as one of the so-called ‘milestones” that Poland has agreed to meet to receive the funds.

The proposal was criticized in Poland, including among judicial circles where some argued that it was inconsistent with the country’s legal system. But the right-wing wing ruling coalition insists it constitutes a compromise that should lead to the releasing of the funds, a process they say will take many months.

Lawmakers at the powerful lower house, or Sejm, voted Wednesday 233-207 for the new law with 12 abstentions, illustrating the deep divisions in a parliament narrowly controlled by the governing Law and Justice party and its junior partners.

The changes still need approval from President Andrzej Duda who said he will closely study them for adherence to Poland’s constitution. Appointing judges is among the president’s powers.

EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, reacted on Twitter saying: “I take note of the adoption by the Sejm of the new law on the judiciary. We will now continue to follow the next steps in the legislative process. “

Government spokesman Piotr Mueller said earlier Wednesday that the new law was a “compromise” offered to Brussels that will “test the true intentions” of the bodies governing the 27-member bloc.

Poland’s government has been arguing that the EU was exceeding its powers in holding up the funds and trying to exert undue pressure.

The new regulations move the divisive disciplinary and immunity procedures regarding judges from the Supreme Court to the main administrative court. They also broaden the possibility for the sides in a court trial of vetting judicial independence and authority.

It remained to be seen whether the EU would indeed find the new law satisfactory.

Other “milestones” that Poland needs to meet before the EU funds can be released, include a bill that should liberalize permissions for installation of wind turbines.

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


FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...

Associated Press

Saudi Arabia reducing global oil supply, could spell higher prices for US drivers

Saudi Arabia will reduce how much oil it sends to the global economy, taking a unilateral step to prop up the sagging price of crude.

18 hours ago

This photo provided by Robert Wilkes, owner of a house boat management company, shows smoke rising ...

Associated Press

Houseboats catch fire while docked at Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell

More than half a dozen house boats momentarily caught fire at a popular boating destination on the Utah-Arizona line on Friday.

3 days ago

File - Women work in a restaurant kitchen in Chicago, Thursday, March 23, 2023. On Friday, the U.S....

Associated Press

US hiring, unemployment jump in May and what that says about the economy

The nation’s employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding a robust 339,000 jobs, well above expectations.

3 days ago

(Pixabay Photo)...

Associated Press

Oath Keeper from Arizona sentenced for role in Jan. 6 riot at US Capitol

Edward Vallejo, a U.S. Army veteran from Phoenix, oversaw a “Quick Reaction Force” at a Virginia hotel that was prepared to deploy an arsenal of weapons into Washington if needed, authorities say.

4 days ago

FILE - U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz listens during a news conference, Jan. 5, 2023, in Washi...

Associated Press

US Border Patrol chief is retiring after seeing through end of Title 42 immigration restrictions

The head of the U.S. Border Patrol announced Tuesday that he was retiring, after seeing through a major policy shift that seeks to clamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border following the end of Title 42 pandemic restrictions.

5 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., on the House steps as...

Associated Press

House OKs debt ceiling bill to avoid default, sends Biden-McCarthy deal to Senate

The House approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package late Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against fierce conservative blowback and progressive dissent.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles



Thank you to Al McCoy for 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns

Sanderson Ford wants to share its thanks to Al McCoy for the impact he made in the Valley for more than a half-decade.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

Polish lawmakers approve law meant to help unlock EU funds