June 13, 2018 / 2:23 PM / a year ago

Political control of courts in Poland violates EU treaties - EU's Timmermans

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans attends a debate on the Future of Europe at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - Putting Polish courts under political control will not make them better and only violates Warsaw’s obligations under European Union treaties which Poland signed up to of its own will, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said.

Timmermans was speaking to the European Parliament in a debate on the rule of law in Poland, where the nationalist-minded government of the Law and Justice (PiS) party is making changes to the judiciary.

The Commission believes the reforms undermine court independence, which is a key European Union value.

“In reforming the judiciary you still need to respect the independence of the judiciary,” Timmermans said.

“If you believe that through putting the judiciary under political control you can make it a better judiciary you are wrong and you are violating your own obligations under European treaties,” he said.

“That is the core element of our discussion with the Polish government,” he said.

European Union governments will discuss the situation in Poland on June 26th.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Julia Echikson

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