January 24, 2020 / 11:50 AM / a month ago

EU executive 'very concerned' with developments in Polish courts

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday it was “very concerned” with the state of the rule of law in Poland where the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party overhauled the courts, precipitating a deepening stand-off between old and new judges.

“The Commission is very concerned about the rule of law situation in Poland, in particular about the final adoption of the law amending the organisation of the ordinary courts,” a Commission spokesman said on Friday, adding the Brussels-based EU executive had previously asked Warsaw not to proceed with the legislation in the form it was eventually approved.

“The Commission will not hesitate to take the appropriate measures as necessary,” the spokesman said, referring to possible further legal cases by the EU against its biggest ex-communist member state. “The latest developments are only proving the urgency of engaging in fair and constructive dialogue to resolve issues at hand.”

The Commission said its top rule of law official, the Czech Republic’s Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova, will travel to Poland next week.

Separately, the Commission asked the bloc’s top court to suspend the new law to discipline judges for criticising the government.

The Polish parliament, dominated by the eurosceptic PiS party which has long been at odds with the EU over the rule of law, passed a bill that would allow judges who criticise the government’s reforms to be disciplined, including through dismissals.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska

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