World News

Poland will not yield to EU over court reforms - Kaczynski

FILE PHOTO: Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the ruling party Law and Justice, attends a Parliament session in Warsaw, Poland, November 24, 2017. Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will not make any concessions in its dispute with the European Union over the country’s judicial reforms, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, said on Friday.

“The programme of deep changes in our country will not slow down, on the contrary - there cannot be any talk about reaching an agreement with powers that for years treated Poland as their own private loot,” Kaczynski told the daily Gazeta Polska Codziennie.

Last month Poland became the first EU member state to have an article 7 rule-of-law procedure launched against it by the European Commission over a judicial overhaul that Brussels says is subverting rule of law standards.

Poland’s new Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said last week that the EU’s Court of Justice should be involved in the procedures against Poland as “the only institution that is entitled” to decide whether the EU law and standards are being respected.

Kaczynski said that Czaputowicz’s remarks were not precise.

“There is, of course, no way Poland would hand in a decision on the court reforms to the Court of Justice. This is our internal competence guaranteed by EU law,” he said.

Kaczynski, who holds no official government post, became the country’s de-facto leader after PiS won elections in late 2015.

Poland’s new prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said earlier this month the country’s dispute with the European Commission was just a “misunderstanding” and that dialogue was needed.

The invocation of article 7 is a major political embarrassment for Poland, but the EU is unlikely to impose the ultimate sanction of suspending Poland’s voting rights because its ally Hungary has vowed to veto any such move.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; editing by Ralph Boulton