Poland ignores EU warnings and pledges to push ahead with judicial reform

Polish President Andrzej Duda has said on Wednesday he has decided to sign into law two bills overhauling the judiciary, in defiance of European Union criticism that the legislation undermines the rule of law in central Europe’s largest economy.
“I have taken a decision to sign these bills,” Duda said in a statement broadcast on public television.
Earlier on Wednesday, the EU executive launched an unprecedented action against Poland over its reforms of the judicial system, which Brussels say threaten the rule of law.
The commission, the EU’s executive arm, is activating article seven of the bloc’s treaty, a never-before-used disciplinary procedure that could ultimately lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the EU.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to initiate Article 7.1. But the facts leave us with no choice,” Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told reporters in Brussels.

Timmermans said that 13 laws adopted by Poland in the space of two years had created a situation where the government “can systematically politically interfere with the composition, powers, the administration and the functioning” of judicial authorities.

Poland’s right-wing government began making changes to the judiciary after coming to power in late 2015 and says the reforms are needed to combat corruption and overhaul the judicial system still haunted by the communist era.

Timmermans said Warsaw had ignored three recommendations by the commission, and Brussels had a duty to act — even if it would be presented by some as an attack on Poland.

“At the end of the day it is only the law that can protect us against naked political power, at the end of the day it is the law that keeps the European Union together,” he said.

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