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EU executive ‘very concerned’ about rule of law situation in Poland

The European Commission is "very concerned" about the rule of law situation in Poland, in particular about the latest bill on disciplining judges, commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said during a Friday press briefing in Brussels.

The European Commission is “very concerned” about the rule of law situation in Poland, in particular about the latest bill on disciplining judges, commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said during a Friday press briefing in Brussels.

Wigand’s comments come a day after Polish parliament voted in favour of a controversial bill broadening disciplinary liability of judges, despite the commission previously expressing concerns about the bill.

The legislation is the latest far-reaching judicial reform to put Poland at loggerheads with the European Union. Under its provisions, judges could face disciplinary punishments, including dismissals, for a broader catalogue of misdemeanours.

The bill would allow disciplinary action against judges who question the legality of judicial appointments. Judges could also be disciplined if they undertake “political activity” or “hinder the functioning of the judiciary.”

The commission will screen the bill for compliance with EU law and “will not hesitate to take appropriate measures as necessary,” Wigand said without going into details.

Also on Friday, the European Court of Justice said in a tweet it received the request from the commission to temporarily suspend Poland’s disciplinary system for judges that is already in place.

According to the commission, the existing regime violates EU law by allowing the content of judicial decisions to be treated as a disciplinary offence.

The commission has also questioned the independence and impartiality of Poland’s new disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court, whose members are selected by a judicial body appointed by parliament.

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