Samuel Petrequin
Petrequin is covering European news and sports.
sampetrequinspetrequin@ap.org

EU says concerns over rule of law in Poland persist

February 22, 2022 GMT
French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of General Affairs ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of General Affairs ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of General Affairs ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of General Affairs ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
1 of 2
French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of General Affairs ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS (AP) — A top European Union official said Tuesday that serious concerns remain about the respect for rule of law in Poland despite plans by the country’s president to abolish a disputed legal chamber.

Vera Jourova, a European Commission vice president, said the EU’s executive arm is currently analyzing a proposal by Polish President Andrzej Duda to replace the so-called Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.

The chamber has the power to suspend judges whose rulings are disliked by the ruling authorities.

The European Court of Justice said last year that it violated EU laws and ordered its temporary suspension pending a verdict. It fined Poland 1 million euros (’$1.1 million) for each day the chamber continues to operate.

Duda has proposed amending the law on the Supreme Court and closing the court’s controversial chamber. He said his proposal was aimed at helping Poland end its conflict with the European Commission. Under his proposal, the chamber would be replaced with a smaller, 11-member body tasked with the professional vetting of judges, called the Professional Responsibility Chamber.

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Jourova, who is in charge of upholding the rule of law in the 27-nation bloc, said Duda’s plan is a “positive step,” but insisted that it will be “the scope and content” of the legislation adopted that will ultimately matter.

“None of the judges who have been subject to a decision of the Disciplinary Chamber have been reinstated to work,” Jourova said after a meeting of EU ministers for European affairs.

“This issue is crucial, because despite all the legal complexity, the question is simple: Will Poland respect the rulings of the European Court of Justice or not?”

In recent years, the right-wing government has repeatedly clashed with the EU, which says the changes Warsaw has made to Poland’s justice system undermine the principles of democracy and the rule of law.