Donald Tusk criticses 'bleak outcomes' in wake of Poland's judiciary reform

Representational image

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said triggering the so-called nuclear option is "part of the discussion".

Political opponents, rights groups and the European Union say it undermines separation of power between the executive and the judiciary.

Defending the reforms, Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that such decisions are the country's internal matter and accused the European Union of abuse of power.

After Thursday's vote, Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of Poland's largest opposition party, Civic Platform, called it the day judicial independence died, while political analyst Stanislaw Mocek warned news agency AFP that subjecting "the judiciary to political power. paves the way for a non-democratic system in Poland".

Last week, the Polish parliament adopted a new law which would allow them to choose the successors of 15 judges of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS). These amendments provide that the members of the council are to be elected by a three-fifths parliamentary majority, instead of the ordinary majority suggested by the original bill, making it much harder for Law and Justice representatives to elect their candidates. Under the second bill, Poland's powerful Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro would be empowered to nominate and remove the chairpersons and senior officials of regional and appeal courts.

The ruling conservative and populist Law and Justice Party had been rushing to get parliament's approval for a contentious draft law that would reorganize the nation's highest court.

Increasingly anxious with how PiS - which combines a staunchly conservative world view with a left-wing economic agenda - is centralising power, the European Commission has opened a raft of proceedings against Warsaw, including an unprecedented probe into threats to the rule of law.


The EU first warned Poland in early 2016 over reforms of the constitutional court by the Law and Justice party, which won elections in late 2015.

Only if they decide Warsaw did not heed their calls could they move to imposing sanctions.

Once triggered, section 7, however, would require a unanimous decision of the other member States to result in a suspension of voting rights of Poland. Poland would, however, likely escape such a measure as it would be vetoed by its ally Hungary.

Legal cases could eventually lead to hefty fines, although they are usually a lengthy and slow-brewing process. Its popularity also stems from record-low unemployment, a robust economy and increased social spending. Its eurosceptic backers revel in clashes with Brussels.

(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski). Government opponents protest in front of the parliament building in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, July 16, 2017, to protest the latest changes in legislation that reorganized the judiciary.

The passing of the legislation amounts to the final piece in the jigsaw for PiS in imposing political mastery over the judiciary, despite the growing protestations of the European Commission that the move is plainly contrary to European law. "This is the clear choice made by the Polish people when they freed themselves from the communist oppression".

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