European Commission launched unprecedented disciplinary proceedings against Poland

Vastavam web: The European Commission launched unprecedented disciplinary proceedings against Poland today over its highly controversial judicial reforms which Brussels says threaten the rule of law.The bloc’s executive arm triggered article seven of the EU treaty over what it sees as “systemic threats” to the independence of the Polish judiciary from the right-wing government.The Dutch commissioner said that 13 laws adopted by Poland in the space of two years had created a situation where the government “can systematically politically interfere with the composition, powers, the adminstration and the functioning” of judicial authorities.

But Timmermans gave Warsaw three months to remedy the situation, saying Brussels could withdraw the measures if it did.Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government began making changes to the judiciary after coming to power in late 2015 and says the reforms are needed to combat corruption and overhaul the judicial system still haunted by the communist era.Any possible sanctions would only come at a second stage and would need unanimous support of all EU members — apart from Poland.

Hungary has already said it would veto such a move, making sanctions unlikely, but Brussels is hoping the start of proceedings will have significant symbolic power.Poland’s parliament last week adopted new reforms allowing it to choose members of a body designed to protect judicial independence and reinforce political control over the Supreme Court.Warsaw and the EU have clashed over the reforms for more than a year with little result. Poland has refused to implement the “recommendations” from Brussels, defending its right to clean up what it says is a corrupt judicial “caste”.

“I am firmly convinced that sovereign states and Europe must be a Europe of sovereign states have an absolute right to reform their judicial systems,” Poland’s new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week, sticking to the line of his eurosceptic predecessor Beata Szydlo.One idea is to link access to European funding for major infrastructure projects to respect for EU values and rulings.