Poland stands firm in EU conflict over court reforms
Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz on Wednesday stressed Poland's right to reform its judiciary however it likes, adding he regrets that the European Union launched unprecedented legal action against Warsaw.
"We defend our right to reform our justice system in accordance with the expectations of Polish people," Czaputowicz told parliament during an annual overview of Poland's foreign diplomacy.
These reforms "do not violate the principles of the democratic rule of law... instead they reinforce them."
Brussels in December triggered Article 7 of the EU treaty over what it sees as "systemic threats" to the independence of the Polish judiciary from the country's right-wing government -- a move that could lead to never-before-used sanctions.
Poland had three months to reply to the EU's concerns and on Tuesday the foreign ministry said it had met the deadline, without specifying the contents of its response.
Judging from Czaputowicz's remarks to parliament however, it does not appear that Poland offered to make any concessions in its letter to the EU.
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said Tuesday that the EU's executive arm will analyse Warsaw's response before ministers meet again next month to assess whether "steps forward were made or not".
The stakes are high if Warsaw fails to satisfy Brussels.
It could be stripped of voting rights in the bloc under the Article 7 procedure -- covering systemic threats to the rule of law -- which had never been previously used against an EU state.
However, Poland's ally Hungary, which has also clashed with Brussels over democracy issues, has vowed to veto any sanction.
© 2018 AFP