Otwórz w przeglądarce  
  Democracy at stake  
  By Miłosz Wiatrowski, 
Senior Editor, Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation

While the Polish government is loudly touting its success in convincing the European Commission to finally greenlight the release of EU's Covid recovery funds set aside for Poland, the row between Warsaw and Brussels over the rule of law conditions is far from over.

Last Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen spoke in front of the European Parliament in defense of the European Commission’s decision to give an initial go-ahead of Poland’s National Recovery Plan (NRP), which was confirmed during her visit in Warsaw on June 2nd.

One of the preconditions for receiving the money from the EU coronavirus recovery fund, which in the case of Poland amounts to EUR 23.9 billion in subsidies and EUR 11.5 billion in low-cost loans, is the implementation of specific rule of law reforms. As a whole, Poland’s National Recovery Plan includes over 280 "milestones" (e.g. new laws) and "targets " (e.g. additional rail connections), the achievement of which will ultimately determine whether the respective tranches will be paid out (expected twice a year) until the end of 2026.

Unofficially, the Commission estimates that Poland will receive the first tranche at the end of this year. This is because, contrary to what PM Morawiecki's government has announced, Poland is unlikely to submit detailed documentation related to the achievement of the "milestones" and "targets" before the end of June.

During her speech in front of the European Parliament, Ursula von der Leyen again emphasized that Poland will not receive any money before it implements legislative changes written into its plan (the so-called "milestones").

The National Recovery Plan encompasses EUR 23.9 billion in subsidies and EUR 11.5 billion in low-cost loans (to be paid until 2026), but the condition for the first tranche to be paid out at the end of this year is that Poland abolishes the Disciplinary Chamber for judges by the end of June.

The second condition is the adoption of legislation that would preclude disciplining judges for the content of their rulings, for preliminary questions to the CJEU, and for checking whether other courts are independent and impartial.

The third rule of law condition written into the RFF is giving judges wronged by the Disciplinary Chamber an opportunity to have its decisions reviewed by an independent court. - I presented these three rule of law provisions last October. I presented them again when I was in Warsaw last week,"- von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

However, it was precisely because of provisions introducing a prolonged process of reinstatement of judges that two of the three main ("executive") deputy heads of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager, voted against backing Poland’s RFF last week. This is because, they argued, last year's CJEU rulings implied an obligation to immediately, or at any rate very quickly, reinstate the judges.

Meanwhile, according to the RFF "milestones", the judges should see their first appeal hearing within a quarter of a year, and a final verdict within 12 months of filing a motion to overturn the decision of the Disciplinary Chamber. Brussels is not expected to verify that Poland met these deadlines until the third tranche of the RFF is paid out at the end of 2023.

That is why three MEPs from the liberal Renew Europe faction - Guy Verhofstadt, Sophie in 't Veld, and Luis Garicano - started collecting signatures for a motion of no-confidence against the European Commission. The motion is to be presented if Poland in fact receives any money from the RFF before the full implementation of the CJEU judgments, the reinstatement of judges harmed by the Disciplinary Chamber, and the recognition of the primacy of EU law.

For now, despite a number of critical voices coming from MEPs across the aisle, von der Leyen appears to be safe. Even Stéphane Séjourné, head of the Renew Europe group distanced himself from the idea put forward by Verhofstadt, in ‘t Veld and Garicano. "There was no majority support for this idea in our group" - Séjourné explained before the debate.

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Warsaw, June 7th. A number of protesters with religious symbols gathered in front of Cinema Muranów to voice their opposition against Post Pxrn Film Festival Warsaw, Poland’s first film festival devoted to post-pornography.

According to its organizers, “Post Pxrn Film Festival Warsaw is an invitation to join us on a journey to the near and far corners of human desire, intimacy, and joy. Our goal is to appreciate sexuality together and take a look – without shame and prudishness – at the diverse languages used to describe it.”

A Catholic organization called the Center for Life and Family, known for its anti-choice activism, believes the event promotes “sexual depravity” and responded with prayer-based protest.

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