Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

European Union threatens Poland with sanctions over judiciary powers overhaul

Poland s Kaczynski insists on radical reform of courts Poland's Kaczynski insists on 'radical' reform of courts
Christy Curtis | 29 July, 2017, 01:22

The investigation deals with alleged secret illegal contacts between Polish and Russian intelligence officials at a time when Tusk was Poland's prime minister from 2007-2014.

An opinion poll conducted after the Polish president vetoed judicial reforms gives the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) 32 percent support, with the liberal opposition parties Civic Platform (PO) and Nowoczesna together on 35 percent, Rzeczpospolita daily said.

Kaczynski vowed to quickly finish overhauling the court system despite President Andrzej Duda's rejection this week of two bills giving the ruling party more power over the Supreme Court and other aspects of the judicial system.

The EU says the Polish reforms undermine judicial independence and break EU rules.

Poland's conservative Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has reacted by stating that the Polish government would "not give in to pressure" at home and overseas to stop changes to the judicial system.

Kaczynski said he expects "very strong resistance" to his party's plans to decentralize the media. It has already tightened control of state media and took steps that critics said politicized the constitutional court.

(L-R) European Commission vice-President Frans Timmermans, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, prior to the start of the weekly meeting of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, 10 January 2017.

Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, Timmermans gave one month for Poland to allay concerns.

The main legal case brought by the European Commission against Warsaw over Bialowieza could take months or even years to conclude, hence its appeal to the ECJ for swift interim action.

Duda said while he agreed with the government on the need for a revamp of the judiciary, the proposed measures were not in line with the constitution of the eastern European Union member state.

If Poland's government fails to comply, the Commission said it would trigger a procedure under Article 7 of the EU treaty that can lead to stripping the EU member state of its voting rights in the Union institutions. "We regret that Mr. Timmermans without knowledge of the bills and Polish law comes up with a hurtful criticism of Poland".

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