Representatives of Renew Europe (CoE), a liberal faction in the European Parliament, want a vote of no confidence in Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission. The reason is the acceptance by the Commission of the Polish National Reconstruction Plan. – The changes that Warsaw has promised to implement, including the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, are purely cosmetic – argue politicians. They point out that in giving Poland the green light to disburse funds, von der Leyen “refused to seriously apply the principles of the conditionality mechanism.”
The motion of no confidence was drafted by Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Spaniard Luis Garicano, who is vice-president of the Renew Europe faction. In order to be put to a vote, a proposal must first receive the support of at least one-tenth of MEPs, i.e. 70 parliamentarians. To renew Europe has 103 MPs. Verhofstadt, quoted on Monday by the AFP agency, said that since Ursula von der Leyen “continues to refuse to seriously apply the principles of the conditionality mechanism” which make EU payments conditional on member states’ compliance with the rule of law, the CoE “is withdrawing its support”.
Two-thirds of MEPs
Last Wednesday, the European Commission gave the green light to the Polish reconstruction planby suspending it earlier for over a year and accusing Poland of violating the independence of judges. However, the obligations of the Polish government in this matter led to the removal of the blockade. According to liberals in the EP, the changes that Warsaw promised to implement, including the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, are “purely cosmetic”. Two-thirds of MEPs must vote for a motion of no confidence in parliament.
Conditional acceptance and “milestones”
Each country European Union had to prepare the National Reconstruction Plan, i.e. a document describing the method of spending funds from the EU Reconstruction Fund. The European Commission has so far refrained from accepting the KPO submitted by the Polish government more than a year ago. At the end of October last year, the head of the European Commission made a condition that the Polish KPO should include the obligation of the government, inter alia, to the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.
At the end of May The Seym passed the amendment to the Act on the Supreme Court initiated by President Andrzej Duda, which, inter alia, liquidates the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. In connection with these decisions, the European Commission gave a positive opinion on the Polish NAP. In a communication on this matter, the Commission stressed that the Polish plan “contains milestones related to important aspects of judicial independence which are of particular importance for improving the investment climate and creating the conditions for effective implementation”.
A day later, Ursula von der Leyen visited Poland and referred to the matter during a press conference with the participation of President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. She stressed that the Commission accepted the NAP after “a very thorough assessment”:
– First, the current Disciplinary Chamber (of the Supreme Court – ed.) Will be abolished and replaced by an independent, independent court – she said. Second, the disciplinary regime needs reform, she continued. Third, as she said, “judges who have suffered as a result of the decision of the Disciplinary Chamber will have the right to have their case reviewed by another new chamber.”
– These three milestones must be met before any payouts can be made. The first payment will be possible when the new law will be implemented and will relate to all these requirements – stated the head of the European Commission. – In addition, Poland has to prove by the end of 2023 that all unlawfully dismissed judges (…) will be reinstated in their position – she said. She also made a reservation that “we are not at the end of the road when it comes to the rule of law in Poland”.
Main photo source: Jakub Szymczuk / KPRP