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16:04, 20 December 2017

European Commission Warns Poland More than Efforts to Overhaul the Courts


European Commission Warns Poland Over Efforts to Overhaul the Courts

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WARSAW — The European Commission issued what it said was an unprecedented formal warning to a member state, Poland, on Wednesday for a “serious breach” of the core values on which the union was founded, applying stress on the country’s president to reject sweeping changes to the judicial method.

The move additional threatens cohesion in the bloc and adds pressure on the governing celebration in Warsaw to alter course.

The warning by the commission, the executive arm of the European Union, was primarily based on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. The treaty includes edicts intended to ensure that member states keep “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights.”

The selection is unlikely to lead to material punishment, such as a suspension of Poland’s voting rights, nonetheless. For the bloc to concern such a sanction, the 27 other member states would have to agree, and Hungary has already vowed to veto.

The president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, said on Twitter that it was “a hard day” not just for Poland but also for the European Union. He stated he had invited the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, to Brussels for talks.

The warning will also be noticed as a clear signal to a number of other former Communist countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, which are all led by parties that espouse populist policies and which have taken, or are considering, actions viewed by critics as threatening to democracy.

The dispute among Poland and other members of the European Union has been constructing for more than two years, since the populist Law and Justice party swept into power promising to rid Poland of corruption and the remnants of communism.

It is now coming to a head soon after the Polish legislatureapproved an overhaul of the judicial method that would force out about 40 percent of Supreme Court justices and would allow politicians to play a higher role in new appointments. The principal opposition celebration, Civic Platform, has decried the proposals as paving the way to the finish of democracy in Poland.

Protesters in Gdansk, Poland, demonstrating against the new law this month.CreditJan Rusek/Agencja Gazeta, by means of Reuters

The Venice Commission, a legal group attached to the Council of Europe, an international rights organization, echoed that concern, saying that the rules place the integrity of the Polish judicial method at danger.

“It’s a very significant issue, the 1st time in the history of the E.U. that this process will be officially started,” said Vladimir Bartovic, director of the Europeum Institute for European Policy, a nonprofit study group based in Prague that focuses on Central and Eastern Europe.

“It’s eventually up to the decision of the Council of course, but already the truth that the commission dares to propose something so severe as the nuclear selection, is currently a enormous problem,” Mr. Bartovic added.

President Andrzej Duda of Poland has not but signed the modifications into law. While not officially a member of the governing celebration, Mr. Duda has lengthy been regarded as an ally of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice and the driving force behind the party’s rise to power.

Nevertheless, that partnership was strained this summer time when Mr. Duda vetoed related legislation aimed at the judiciary. That proposal known as for dismissing the whole Supreme Court and drew massive protests.

The move by the European Commission is not without having dangers. It could embolden Mr. Kaczynski and draw far more support for his lead to if people believe Poland is getting unfairly targeted by what numerous view as distant elites in Brussels.

The Polish minister of foreign affairs, Witold Waszczykowski, expressed anger even before the commission’s vote, saying the selection was “an try to stigmatize Poland and push us aside when crucial decisions are produced in the E.U.”

Ahead of the European Commission’s vote on Wednesday, Joanna Kopcinska, a spokeswoman for the Polish government, told the state broadcaster that Warsaw rejected the criticism from Brussels.

“Obviously, we don’t ignore the message that comes from the European Commission about the threat to the rule of law in our country, but it’s absolutely unfounded,” she said. “The bloc has too many instant difficulties that want to be solved to pay so considerably focus to Poland. Poland is a democratic and sovereign state, and there is nothing at all bad going on here.”

“Scaring Polish society with sanctions is unjustified,” she added.

Jacek Rostowski, a senior member of Civic Platform and deputy prime minister in the prior government, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that sanctions would be an attempt by Europe to defend Poland’s rights and freedoms from the “creeping dictatorship” of the Law and Justice celebration.

Adhere to Marc Santora on Twitter: @MarcSantoraNYT

Joanna Berendt contributed reporting from Warsaw, and Milan Schreuer from Brussels.

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Published at Wed, 20 Dec 2017 13:42:02 +0000


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