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EU's Timmermans in Warsaw to discuss rule of law

PR dla Zagranicy
Alicja Baczyńska 09.04.2018 08:35
European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is visiting Warsaw on Monday to hold talks on the rule of law in Poland following disputed legal changes carried out by the country's conservative government.
Photo: qimono/pixabay.com/CC0 Creative CommonsPhoto: qimono/pixabay.com/CC0 Creative Commons

While in the Polish capital, Timmermans was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and presidential chief of staff Krzysztof Szczerski, in addition to the heads of the country's Constitutional Tribunal and Supreme Court.

The visit comes amid an ongoing series of talks on changes to the Polish judiciary.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union, in December took the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over controversial changes to the justice system by the country’s ruling conservatives.

The head of the Polish Prime Minister’s Office, Michał Dworczyk, said on Sunday that initial signals sent by Brussels indicated that recent adjustments to judicial reforms had been “positively assessed by politicians and officials in the European Union.”

“We hope that Frans Timmermans’ visit will help shed light on the essence of the changes taking place in Polish law, the judiciary in particular," Dworczyk added. "We believe that [the meetings] will be a step towards bringing the positions of the Polish government and the European Commission closer together and towards decreasing tension that has arisen in recent months."

In March, in an effort to accommodate some of the EU executive’s recommendations over changes to the court system in Poland, the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party came forward with a series of legislative initiatives to modify disputed laws regulating the work of the country's common court system and the Supreme Court.

Under the legislation, the justice minister would no longer be able to dismiss court presidents and deputy presidents without consulting judges and the powerful National Council of the Judiciary.

In a further modification of existing regulations which politicians said was intended to accommodate the European Commission’s recommendations, the retirement age of male and female judges would be set at an equal level of 65 years.

And in yet another step designed to help reach an agreement with Brussels, the country’s governing conservatives said they were ready to publish three Constitutional Tribunal judgments that the ruling party argues the top court issued in violation of the law in 2016.

Poland's governing Law and Justice party has said sweeping legal changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past. It has accused judges of being a self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.

But opponents have accused Law and Justice of aiming to stack courts with its own candidates and to dismantle the rule of law. (aba/gs/pk)

Source: PAP, IAR

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