Cyprus Mail
Europe

EU urges Poland to stop judicial changes or face action (Update)

Protesters gather in front of the Presidential Palace during a peaceful protest against the judicial reforms in Warsaw, Poland July 18, 2017

The European Union’s executive called on Poland on Wednesday to put on hold judicial reforms it said would “have a very significant negative impact” on courts’ independence, or face disciplinary action as early as next week.

The European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans also told a briefing: “These laws considerably increase the systemic threats to the rule of law.”

“Collectively, they would abolish any remaining judicial independence and put the judiciary under full political control of the government.”

He was speaking after a tumultuous session in the Polish parliament on Tuesday that saw the nationalist-minded government pushing a law giving it more direct control over the Supreme Court, whose tasks include validating elections in the EU’s largest ex-communist state.

Poland‘s lower house voted on Wednesday to send a contested Supreme Court reform bill to a parliamentary committee, moving closer to passing a law the opposition says erodes the independence of the country’s judiciary.

Lawmakers from the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and their coalition partners passed the bill, which would give them the power to appoint Supreme Court judges, in its first reading during a long and rowdy parliamentary session.

The committee is expected to review the bill immediately.

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