EU official praises efforts by Poland’s new government to restore the rule of law

Warsaw: European Union Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders on Friday praised efforts by Poland’s new pro-EU government to restore the rule of law and said they may lead to the release of billions of euros in EU funds for the country that were frozen under the previous government.

Reynders was holding talks in Warsaw with new Justice Minister Adam Bodnar, the foreign and European affairs ministers and parliament speakers about the steps that Poland’s month-old government is taking to reverse the controversial judicial policies of the previous administration that the EU had criticized as undemocratic.

Reynders said at a news conference that he was pleased by the determination of Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Cabinet in restoring the rule of law, in line with Poland’s Constitution and the requirements of the EU and the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-member bloc, was supporting the government’s efforts.

He expressed hope that the steps would soon allow the approval of Poland’s request for the release of about 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) from the post-pandemic recovery funds earmarked for the country. The EU froze the money as a result of rule-of-law disputes with Poland’s previous right-wing government of the Law and Justice party.

Among its key steps, Tusk’s government has imprisoned two members of the previous government who were convicted of abuse of power and document forging and is making personnel changes in vital judicial bodies and some courts where rule-of-law principles had been questioned.

Bodnar’s steps have been harshly criticized by the opposition which lost power in October elections, but he told the news conference that they were well thought-out and necessary.