Senior EU official warns Polish president over legal changes
PR dla Zagranicy
European Parliament chief Antonio Tajani has warned the Polish president that changes to the judiciary planned by the government in Warsaw “could be against the fundamental principles of the EU.”
Polish MPs in parliament on Tuesday. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara
Poland's ruling conservatives have said sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system.
But thousands of Poles took to the streets at the weekend in opposition to the proposed changes, accusing the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party of aiming to stack courts with its own candidates and to dismantle the rule of law.
In a letter published on Twitter on Tuesday, Tajani wrote that government-backed legislation “has created great concern in the European Parliament as it could be against fundamental principles of the EU Treaties, weaken the independence and impartiality of the Polish judiciary, and undermine the separation of powers in Poland.”
The letter to Polish President Andrzej Duda, who has the power to veto the legal changes, added: “Having regard to your role as supreme guarantor of the Polish Constitution, I respectfully call on you to further consider the matter and to take into account these concerns.”
Tajani’s letter came a day after the leaders of five factions in the European Parliament -- comprising the majority of MEPs -- urged him to act, saying “the survival of democracy and the rule of law is at stake” in Poland.
Two government-backed bills passed by parliament would give Poland's ruling conservatives powers to appoint judges to the country’s district and appeals courts, and to an influential judicial ethics supervisory council.
The Polish parliament was on Tuesday debating a third bill on appointments to the Supreme Court.
PiS supporters have criticised Polish courts for taking too long to hear cases, and have accused judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.
Poland is already embroiled in a row with Brussels over PiS's sweeping changes to the Constitutional Tribunal and concerns about the rule of law.