December 20, 2017 / 1:08 PM / a year ago

EU action vs Poland on rule of law is about EU as a whole - Timmermans

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The launch of the European Commission’s unprecedented action against Poland over judicial reforms is about preserving the European Union as a whole, Commission First Vice President Francs Timmermans said.

The Commision action, called Article 7 after the article in the EU treaty that describes it, has been triggered by Poland’s adoption of a law on the Supreme Court, which cuts short the term of judges that is enshrined in the Polish constitution.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have activated Article 7. But the facts leave us with no choice. We have no other option,” Timmermans told a news conference.

“This is not just about Poland, it is about the EU as a whole,” he said, adding the independence of the judiciary was a fundamental EU principle because it ensured the functioning of the EU single market.

He said Poland, ruled by the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party since late 2015, was free to reform its judiciary but it had to do so without breaking Poland’s own constitution or EU treaties.

“I will not let go,” Timmermans said referring to the Commission’s commitment to the independence of the judiciary.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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