Poland set to scrap measure allowing judges to be punished for court rulings following dispute with EU

Poland set to scrap measure allowing judges to be punished for court rulings following dispute with EU

The Polish government announced on Tuesday that it will dismantle a controversial disciplinary chamber for judges that had sparked the EU’s ire, although the country pledged to continue with judicial reforms.

The confirmation by the Polish government comes shortly after the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, announced that the country would concede to the EU over claims that the system should be scrapped for violating the bloc’s law.

The EU had set an August 16 deadline for Poland to confirm it would disband the chamber, which European officials had claimed was used to put undue political pressure on judges, risking undermining the rule of law. If Poland failed to agree to dismantle the chamber, it risked facing financial penalties from the EU.

However, despite backing down from the row with the EU, Poland has pledged to “continue reforms of the judiciary.” The government’s statement, released on Tuesday, said changes would continue to be made to improve “the efficiency of this system,” specifically “in the area of judges’ answerability.”

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The decision to dismantle the chamber marks a climbdown from Poland’s defiant position earlier this month. On August 6, the country’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, had threatened to leave the EU if the bloc proceeds with “illegal blackmail” attempts to halt judicial reforms, defending the disciplinary chamber.

Poland has been pushing forward with judicial reforms since the Law and Justice Party took office in 2015. While the EU has been critical of the changes, it launched action against Poland over a measure that allowed justices to be investigated and punished for court rulings. Poland’s Supreme Court had previously partially frozen the disciplinary chamber while the government weighed complying with the EU’s demand to completely scrap it.

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