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POLAND: Judiciary Reform Concessions

Amendments to the reforms of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary Council (KRS) went through the Senate on Monday. The Polish government hopes that proposed concessions will be enough to avoid the issue during next month’s EU budget negotiations. Partners from Germany, France, and EU institutions have reacted hopefully to the move. While some have argued that the changes are cosmetic, it nevertheless shows a change of attitude. Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz even said that there was further room for manoeuvring, suggesting the more concessions are possible. The changes the amendments will bring, among others, decrease the powers of the Justice Minister over heads of courts and allow the publication of disputed 2016 Constitutional Tribunal rulings.

Brussels is further pushing Warsaw to limit dismissal mechanisms for judges as much as possible. Some legal experts in Poland are disappointed that Brussels is giving in to what were called cosmetic concessions. Still, European diplomats see any talks which lead to actual changes, and the potential for more, as a shift in relations with Poland. Notably, this could go even further, with rumours within PiS that Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro might lose his position. A new Minister could internally legitimize PiS’ more toned-down narrative on the judiciary reforms.