Turbulent days are coming to Poland's government.

Once again it is about the judicial reforms of the national conservative government.

Polish President Andrzej Duda tried to build a bridge in the dispute with Brussels and presented a draft law to dissolve the particularly controversial disciplinary chamber at the country's highest court.

The Sejm, the House of Representatives, must vote on this.

That could happen as early as this Wednesday or Thursday.

Gerhard Gnauck

Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.

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The vote could turn into a showdown, because Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and his small right-wing party Solidarity Poland, which is part of the national-conservative government camp, are opposed.

Without the votes of the opposition, the bill is therefore likely to fail.

And unless the disciplinary chamber is dissolved, Brussels will not release the around 35 billion euros from the Corona reconstruction fund requested by Poland.

Competing Disciplinary Body Bills

In 2021, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered Poland to dissolve the recently established disciplinary chamber at its Supreme Court because it allows judges in Poland to be politically controlled;

otherwise the country would have to pay one million euros in fines every day.

Warsaw initially did not react and as of January 10 alone, 69 million euros in penalties have accrued.

This month the European Commission decided to deduct these funds from EU funds to be sent to Poland.

Duda's draft law, which is intended to end the dispute, is now available.

But Ziobro has submitted a competing design.

There was a foretaste of the parliamentary session on Tuesday in the Judiciary Committee, which was supposed to deal with the drafts.

An opposition MP tweeted from the meeting that Ziobro supporters were "sabotaging the passage".

Apparently they withheld some of their proposed changes to Duda's text and caused confusion.

"They not only ridicule the President's draft, above all they block the funds from the reconstruction fund." Another wrote of "blockade attitude".

Above all, the party led by Ziobro calls for the “test” on the impartial attitude of judges, as proposed by the President in his draft, to be deleted.

The disputing parties should be able to apply for this in court at short notice if they have doubts about a specific judge.

In this way, countless judges and their judgments could be “delegitimized”, complained Deputy Minister Sebastian Kaleta, a close comrade-in-arms of Ziobro, in an essay.

Another called for the future law to be preceded by a "preamble" pointing out that the Polish constitution and also the judgments of the Constitutional Court (e.g. on the primacy of Polish law over EU law) are above European law.

In general, Europe wants to take away Poland's sovereignty – also in questions of the judiciary, but not only there.

Ziobro wants to reduce EU membership fees

If Solidarity Poland sticks to its objections, it could jeopardize parliamentary approval.

According to the website, the party, which has 19 MPs, has in recent years appeared in a faction and list community with the large governing party "Law and Justice" (PiS) led by Jarosław Kaczyński.

But the joint government faction of this "United Right" has cracks.

The government camp is already frayed at the edges and today has only 228 MPs, three fewer than the absolute majority.

Now the PiS has fired back in the direction of Ziobro.

Faction leader Ryszard Terlecki, one of Kaczyński's closest confidants, publicly asked whether the small party wanted to be "the right flank or the stupid flank" of the common camp.

Before the elections (scheduled for autumn 2023), one's own ranks would have to be "thoroughly cleaned up", "consequences" would have to be drawn.

Solidarity Poland also caused a stir with regard to the reception of refugees from Ukraine.

For example, Ziobro suggested that Poland should apply to the EU for permission to reduce its membership fees to the EU budget due to the alleged lack of support (in 2021 Poland paid 7.1 billion euros to Brussels and received 18.6 billion euros in EU funds). billion).

A government spokesman countered that it was "not a good move" and that every country was obliged to pay contributions.

According to a new study, Poland, with its 38 million inhabitants, has taken in 2.2 million refugees from Ukraine since February, but the government has also criticized that the EU must provide Poland with more support.

Another important vote this week is likely to be the intended re-election of the head of the National Bank, Adam Glapiński, who is close to the PiS.

There are said to be several "deviants" in the PiS faction on this issue.

After all, there is a clear tendency in public opinion on the question of dissolving the chamber in the Supreme Court: In a survey published on Tuesday, 69 percent of those questioned spoke out in favor of such a step in the interests of the EU Commission, only 18.5 percent were against it.

Among government supporters, supporters and opponents each account for 39 percent.