BFF-44 EU still working with Poland on rule of law row

427

ZCZC

BFF-44

POLAND-EU-JUSTICE-DIPLOMACY

EU still working with Poland on rule of law row

WARSAW, June 18, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The European Commission said Monday it
was “prepared to work” with Poland’s right-wing government to resolve a
lengthy rule of law dispute but did not indicate whether progress had been
made at talks in Warsaw.

European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans said he would “study”
new information provided by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, after they met
in the Polish capital.

“I am prepared to work with him and his government in the pursuit of a
satisfactory solution” Timmermans added.

Morawiecki said “there are different forces that don’t want compromise”,
without identifying the forces in question.

“I’m glad that the commissioner (Timmermans) does not hold such a
position, that we are trying to reach an agreement while taking into account
the fact that the justice system needs reforms,” Morawiecki added.

Timmermans said last week that his dialogue with Polish authorities, which
began two years ago, had yielded some progress recently, but that overall
Warsaw had failed to allay fears that it is undermining judicial
independence.

Brussels in December triggered so-called article seven proceedings against
Poland over “systemic threats” to the rule of law, which could eventually see
Warsaw’s EU voting rights suspended.

Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) government began making changes to the
judiciary after coming to power in late 2015.

It says the reforms are needed to combat corruption and overhaul a judicial
system still haunted by the communist era.

The EU agreed last week to launch hearings later this month into fears
Poland is breaching the independence of its courts as Warsaw moves closer to
the possible unprecedented sanctions.

Around a third of Poland’s supreme court judges risk being fired or forced
to retire on July 3 when one of the reforms comes into force.

Three former Polish presidents, including anti-communist icon Lech Walesa,
last week urged the EU to defend the rule of law in Poland.

Pointing to Supreme Court reform, the leaders accused the PiS government
of “dismantling the tripartite division of powers in Poland, explicitly
violating the Polish Constitution.”

“The European Union is the last administrative level that can defend law
and order in Poland”, the former presidents, who include leftist Aleksander
Kwasniewski and liberal Bronislaw Komorowski, said in a statement published
in the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

BSS/AFP/RY/1905 hrs