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Poland vows fiery response over blocked EU funds

August 9, 2022

Warsaw is threatening to "pull out all the cannons" as the EU blocks billions of euros in pandemic recovery funds. But Brussels insists Poland is not doing enough to resolve the row over judicial independence.

A general view of the Polish Supreme Court
Poland's Supreme Court picked candidates for a new body to replace the controversial disciplinary chamber at the center of the dispute with Brussels Image: Omar Marques/Getty Images

A European Commission spokesperson on Tuesday said that Poland has not done enough to break a long-running standoff over Warsaw's controversial judicial reform

Poland's ruling, right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party has threatened to hit back at the European Union as the Commission put on hold over €35 billion ($36 billion) of COVID-19 recovery grants and loans due to the dispute. 

In May, Warsaw replaced a disciplinary chamber for judges with a new body in a bid to resolve the row. The Polish Supreme Court on Tuesday picked candidates for the new chamber from among its judges.  

But Brussels sees this step as insufficient and argues that Warsaw is yet to guarantee judicial independence. 

What did the PiS say? 

"If there is an attempt to block the payment ... and the European Commission tries to pressure us, then we have no choice but to pull out all the cannons in our arsenal and respond with a barrage," Krzysztof Sobolewski, PiS secretary-general, told Polish public radio.

Cabinet Minister Michal Wojcik, a member of the conservative United Poland party, vowed that Poland would veto EU initiatives.

Over the weekend, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski accused the EU of failing to deliver on its obligations to Poland as Warsaw faces pressing issues amid the war in Ukraine

Poland looks for EU help for Ukraine's refugees

"There is a crisis, there is a war. These are conditions that fully justify taking extraordinary measures. Since in this area the European Commission does not fulfill its obligations toward Poland, we have no reason to fulfill our obligations toward the European Union," Kaczynski said in an interview with weekly magazine Sieci.

What did the EU say?

On Tuesday, Commission spokesperson Arianna Podesta responded, saying a new Polish law did not give judges the right to question judicial appointments without facing disciplinary proceedings. 

"This issue ... has to be addressed for the recovery and resilience plan commitments to be met," she told a press briefing. 

"The new law is an important step ... but our preliminary assessment is that it does not ensure for the judges to question the status of another judge without risking being subject to a disciplinary offense,'' Podesta said.

fb/nm (AP, Reuters)