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Poland's respect for rule of law has not improved, could worsen: EU's Timmermans

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Poland has not addressed the European Commission’s concerns about the independence of the judiciary and new Polish laws threaten to deepen the rule of law crisis even further, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said on Wednesday.

Timmermans spoke in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to update lawmakers on the state of the rule-of-law monitoring procedure launched against Poland a year ago.

The unprecedented procedure can end in Poland losing its voting right in the 28-nation European Union if all other EU leaders agree to that.

“Regrettably, the situation has not improved,” Timmermans, who is in charge of the procedure, told the parliament, adding the EU’s executive European Commission would discuss what next steps to take “soon”.

He noted that Poland’s parliament has now passed three new laws on the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, which, while addressing some of the issues raised by the Commission, actually raised new concerns as well.

“I am deeply concerned by these new developments, which threaten to deepen the rule of law crisis in Poland,” Timmermans said.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski