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EU warns Poland over independence of judiciary

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EU warns Poland over independence of judiciary

Frans Timmermans - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission expressed grave concern Wednesday about the clear risks for the independence of the judiciary in Poland and urges the Polish Government to put its new laws on hold.

A dialogue over the Polish judiciary and the Rule of Law dialogue has been ongoing between the Commission and Poland since 13 January last year.

The Commission's concerns are over four legislative acts which have recently been proposed in Poland: these are a law on the National Council for the Judiciary; a law on the National School of Judiciary; a law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation; and a law on the Supreme Court - three of which have been adopted by the Polish Parliament, one of which has entered into force, two of which are still subject to the signature of the President and one of which is under discussion in the Parliament.

"Each individual law, if adopted, would seriously erode the independence of the Polish judiciary said Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, "and increase the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland."

Following the meeting - a first in-depth discussion on the new developments - the College of Commissioners expressed serious concerns, and said it is looking into the legal and political options available to the Commission to act upon these concerns - as guardian of the Treaties, including a third Rule of Law Recommendation to the Polish government and the possibility of infringement proceedings for violation of EU law.

The option of triggering Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union was also part of the discussion.

The College agreed to revert to this issue in its meeting next week on the basis of a comprehensive legal analysis and any observations the Polish authorities and other interested parties and European or international organisations may submit.

The Commission is urging the Polish authorities to put the new laws on hold and re-engage in an ongoing 'Rule of Law dialogue' with Mr Timmermans in an attempt to address the serious concerns expressed.

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