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Rule of LawPoland

Polish president seeks closure of court body to end EU row

February 3, 2022

Andrzej Duda said he put forward a draft law to dismantle the Supreme Court's disciplinary chamber for judges, the center of a long-running dispute between Warsaw and Brussels over the rule of law.

Andrzej Duda speaks at the Presidential Palace during a press conference
Duda said his bill would mean the chamber would be scrappedImage: Leszek Szymanski/PAP/picture alliance

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday said he proposed a bill to close the the Supreme Court's disciplinary chamber in a bid to end a dispute with the European Union.

Critics say the chamber allows for the dismissal of judges on political grounds. It became a flashpoint of tensions between Poland and the EU. 

The EU's top court had ordered Poland to pay a fine of €1 million ($1.2 million) per day for not suspending the disciplinary chamber. 

Brussels threatened to deduct the amount from Poland's EU funds if it did not pay the fine.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had previously told the European Parliament the disciplinary chamber would be abolished. But no draft law on the matter had been introduced.

EU, Poland row over judicial committee

What did Duda say?

The president said he was submitting an amendment to the Supreme Court's decision that established the controversial chamber. "I propose that this chamber be abolished," he said. 

"I want to give the Polish government an instrument to end the dispute with the European Commission," Duda said.

According to the plan, the judges currently serving in the chamber would have the option of choosing another chamber of the Supreme Court or retiring. 

However, Duda's proposal also includes a plan to appoint a new body called the "chamber of professional responsibility," consisting of 11 judges.  

He stressed that the new body will ensure that all judges be treated equally, contrary to the criticism against the disciplinary chamber. 

What has been the reaction?

Critics dismissed Duda's proposal. 

"This bill is just an attempt to get EU money via a bogus rebranding attempt while continuing to violate ECJ (European Court of Justice) rulings," said Laurent Pech, a professor of European law at Middlesex University in Britain. 

The EU, however, refrained from passing immediate judgment on the proposal. 

"We will have to wait and see what exactly is proposed," European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told reporters in Brussels when asked about Duda's announcement.

Christian Wigand, another European Commission spokesman, said the fines would apply "until Poland fully complies with the order of the court." 

"It remains for Poland to fully and urgently comply."

Besides the disciplinary chamber, the EU and Poland have also been mired in tensions over a Polish Constitutional Court ruling against the primacy of EU law.

Poland's Constitutional Court 'is a marionette court'

fb/msh (Reuters, AFP)