Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis urged parliament anew on Wednesday to approve vital justice reform bills before the May elections or risk losing the momentum.

The House legal affairs committee discussed the three bills in Yiolitis’ presence with the opposition complaining they were not given enough time to study the texts.

“The reform is already late and the momentum present at the moment cannot be lost,” the minister said afterwards.

She urged all parties to cooperate, stressing that politics had no place in the reform.

Yiolitis said the bills had been extensively discussed during her predecessor’s term and many meetings also took place after the committee asked for them to be reviewed.

“I consider criticism that not enough time for consultation was given unfair,” she said, as well as suggestions that parliament was being blackmailed.

She warned that the matter was being watched by the EU and not passing it could affect funding.

The European Commission has recommended reforming the notoriously slow justice system and its recommendations are linked to the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The chairman of the Bar Association also appealed to parliament to approve the reforms.

“I think it is very important to enact these three bills by this parliament because if they are not enacted now, possibly inside April, I predict that the established balances, even with reservations, even with some disputes, will be lost and it will become very difficult to revisit the reform issue soon,” Christos Clerides said.

Supreme Court president Persefoni Panayi told MPs that the court did not disagree with the idea of reform but had certain reservations.

Main opposition Akel MP Aristos Damianou said the bills had holes, weaknesses and vague provisions and discussion needed to continue.

The bills include constitutional amendments, and the creation of a supreme constitutional court, a supreme court, and an appellate court that will handle pending appeals that number between 4,000 and 5,000, all roles now filled by the existing supreme court.

They also provide for the creation of a new judicial council – another role filled by supreme court judges — that will be responsible for appointments and promotions.