The Polish House of Representatives, the Sejm, has approved the abolition of the controversial disciplinary chamber at the Supreme Court, thereby enabling a rapprochement in the dispute over the Polish judiciary between Warsaw and Brussels.

In the second reading on Thursday evening, 231 MPs voted in favor of the draft, against 208.

Gerhard Gnauck

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

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Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

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After being passed in the Sejm, the law now goes to the upper house, the Senate, which has to vote on it within 30 days before President Andrzej Duda can sign it.

Duda presented the draft at the beginning of February and said as justification that he hoped it would help "resolve doubts at European level" about the rule of law in the country and "strengthen the unity of the EU, which we all need so much today".

The bill provides for the abolition of the Disciplinary Chamber, which should be able to try disciplinary cases against judges and also lift judges' immunity.

Complaints against lawyers and public prosecutors should also be brought before the chamber in certain cases.

Critics feared an undue influence of the government camp on the judges.

"Chamber of Professional Responsibility"

A new "Chamber for Professional Responsibility" is to be set up in place of the controversial Disciplinary Chamber.

33 people are to be drawn at random from among all the judges of the Supreme Court, with the exception of the court president.

The President will appoint eleven judges from each of them for a term of five years.

The draft also provides for an examination of the impartiality and independence of judges in cases of doubt.

For Warsaw, the change in law is the first major step in the conflict over the release of billions from the Corona reconstruction fund.

Poland must "commit itself," said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last October, "to dissolve the disciplinary chamber, abolish or change disciplinary law and begin a process to reinstate the judges."

The latter referred to the rehabilitation of people who had been punished by the Chamber.

Disciplinary law is about provisions that prohibit judges from engaging in political activities, for example, and making referrals to the ECJ a punishable offence.

According to reports in Brussels, the proposed law is sufficient for the Commission to approve the reconstruction plan that Warsaw has submitted to it.

Poland has to meet "milestones".

But that doesn't mean that money will flow.

It would only have been like this if both sides had agreed on the plan by the end of last year - then Warsaw, like all other countries, could have received 13 percent of the total funds as an advance.

But now it has to apply for a regular tranche to be paid out and prove that it has actually met the agreed “milestones”.

The political "obligation" is not sufficient for this, it must be implemented by law, i.e. it must have passed through all legislative stations.