Polish parliament allows judicial reform to help access EU funds

The lower house of Poland's parliament, or Sejm, filled with new lawmakers, and foreign diplomats as guests, during the gala inauguration of a new four-year term of the national parliamentin Warsaw, Poland, on Nov 12, 2019. (PHOTO / AP)

WARSAW – Polish lawmakers gave final approval to a key judicial reform bill intended to unblock billions of euros of EU funds withheld due to a dispute over the country's rule of law.

The Sejm, Poland's lower house of parliament, passed the bill in a 233 to 207 vote with 12 abstentions on Wednesday.

The legislation assumes that the Supreme Administrative Court would decide disciplinary and immunity cases of judges instead of the Supreme Court. It will then head to President Andrzej Duda's desk.

Judicial reform is one of the "milestones" set by the European Commission that Poland needs to accomplish before it receives the EU's post-pandemic recovery fund.

READ MORE: EU will demand Poland pay fines for disciplining judges

Due to a rule-of-law dispute, the European Commission has blocked Poland's access to 23.9 billion euros (25.6 billion U.S. dollars) in grants and 11.5 billion euros  (12.3 billion dollars) in cheap loans, despite approving Poland's outline on the spending.

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