WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s lawmakers voted Friday to approve a new law on judicial accountability that the government hopes will meet European Union expectations and help unfreeze billions of euros in pandemic recovery funds for the country.
Brussels suspended the aid for Poland, saying the government’s policies of exerting control over the judiciary are in violation of democratic principles. The EU has called for essential changes to be made before Poland can be granted access to the money.
The right-wing coalition government argues that the provisions of the new law have been agreed on with Brussels. Some previous changes made by Poland didn’t go far enough for the EU.
But the justice minister, who introduced the measures to wield political control over the judiciary, opposes the changes, threatening the government’s future, and President Andrzej Duda says he hasn’t been consulted on the new law.
The lower house of parliament voted 203-52 with 189 abstentions to approve the new legislation, a vote that reflects the divisions inside the ruling coalition and opposition’s scepticism.
The new regulations move the divisive disciplinary procedures regarding judges from the Supreme Court to the main administrative court. They also broaden the possibility of vetting judicial independence and authority. It wasn’t immediately clear if the EU would be satisfied with the changes.
The new law now goes to the opposition-controlled Senate for assessment and then requires approval from Duda.