Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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Polish top court delays hearing on bill needed to get EU funds

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s top court postponed on Wednesday a crucial hearing on the constitutionality of reforms designed to unblock European Union funds due to an insufficient number of judges, the latest hurdle for Warsaw to get the cash.

Polish President Andrzej Duda in February asked the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on the constitutionality of reforms to the Supreme Court, which the government says will unblock billions in funds withheld due to a dispute with Brussels over the rule of law.

However, a row over the legitimacy of the Constitutional Tribunal’s president, Julia Przylebska, has lead to several sittings being postponed in the last few months. A group of judges believes Przylebska’s term ended in December.

Their refusal to be part of the sittings she presides over has made it impossible to muster the panel of 11 out of 15 judges needed for hearings in the most important cases, which require a full court, to take place.

On Wednesday, the Tribunal was due to hear two cases as a full court, but moved both to later dates “due to the sudden and justified absence of a judge”, its press office said.

The hearing related to the Supreme Court reforms was moved to June 27.

In early May, ruling party lawmakers proposed a bill that would cut the number of judges required for a full court to nine in a bid to break the deadlock.

Parliament had been expected to vote on the bill on Friday, but that was postponed until June.

Warsaw is embroiled in a long-running row with the European Union over reforms that critics say undermine the independence of the courts.

Brussels has withheld 35.4 billion euros ($39 billion) in COVID-19 recovery funds and has required reform on issues such as judicial independence and green energy before releasing the cash.

It has also said it is withholding billions in cohesion funds from the EU budget until the dispute over the judiciary is resolved.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Disclaimer: This report is auto generated from the Reuters news service. ThePrint holds no responsibilty for its content.

Source: The Print

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