April 9, 2018 / 2:39 PM / 8 months ago

EU urges Poland to further address concerns over judiciary reform

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki meets with First Vice-President of European Commission Frans Timmermans in Warsaw, Poland, April 9, 2018. Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s parliament should take action aimed at addressing the European Union’s concerns regarding judicial reform before any compromise is reached, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said on Monday.

“We can see some actions taken by the parliament, we are analysing them very closely and carefully. We haven’t seen an end of this process yet,” he said at a news conference with the Polish foreign minister summarising his visit to Warsaw.

“We hope to continue this dialogue. Our aim is to work out solutions,” he said. “But I can’t prejudge now and I have to wait for concrete actions, concrete measures that will be taken.”

Last year the Commission triggered the procedure aimed at stripping Warsaw of voting rights in the EU.

Poland, the biggest ex-communist EU state, stands accused of subjecting courts to more government control since the nationalist-minded, eurosceptical Law and Justice (PiS) party won power in late 2015.

Under the overhaul, the justice minister was given the power to fire court heads without providing justification and subject to no review. Among other measures, PiS also decided to cut the terms of Supreme Court judges, retiring 40 percent of them.

The new Supreme Court judges will be appointed by the president who is a PiS ally. This politicised Supreme Court will decide directly about the validity of election results.

Last month PiS offered some concessions in the spat with the EU, but the Supreme Court called the changes “illusory”.

Warsaw says the changes were necessary to push aside judges left over from the Communist era. It also says that the reforms will improve the way and speed courts in Poland function.

Reporting by Pawel Sobczak; additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Writing by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Alison Williams

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