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Poland tells EU its overhaul of judiciary in line with EU standards
August 28, 2017 / 2:25 PM / 2 months ago

Poland tells EU its overhaul of judiciary in line with EU standards

Poland's President Andrzej Duda leaves after his media announcement about Supreme Court legislation at Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland said on Monday that the legislative process overhauling its judiciary is in line with European standards and called the European Commission’s concerns about rule of law in the country groundless.

On July 26, the Commission said it would launch legal action against Poland over the reforms and gave Warsaw a month to respond to concerns that the process undermines the independence of judges and breaks EU rules.

Last month, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed into a law a bill giving the justice minister the power to replace heads of ordinary courts, but after mass street protests blocked two other bills.

The vetoed bills would have empowered the government and parliament to replace Supreme Court judges and most members of a high-level judicial panel.

“In response ... the Polish side emphasized that the legislative process which has the primary goal of reforming the justice system is in line with European standards and answers social expectations that have been growing for years, therefore the Commission’s doubts are groundless,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also said that “in the spirit of loyal cooperation” it has provided the European Commission with all necessary information on the situation in Poland.

Poland’s right-wing, eurosceptic government says the reforms are needed to streamline a slow, outdated legal system and make judges more accountable to the people. It has already tightened control of state media and took steps that critics said politicized the constitutional court.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly

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