Poland’s planned changes to its judicial system pose a “serious threat” to the independence of the country’s rule of law, Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s first vice president, told the European Parliament Monday.
“Four laws adopted by parliament would have a very significant negative impact on the independence of the Polish judiciary and would increase the systemic threat to the rule of law,” Timmermans told MEPs of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE).
Poland’s governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party has been embroiled in a row with Brussels over the plans to reorganize the country’s Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary.
Center-right MEP Roberta Metsola told the committee that the European People’s Party group “remains concerned regarding the developments in Poland and the lack of will of the Polish government to engage in a constructive dialogue with the European Commission.”
Jadwiga Wiśniewska, a PiS MEP, said that the Commission is “building a false picture of Poland.”
“The current government has a majority in the Polish parliament … We are currently carrying out our electoral promises. In Poland, it’s Poles who decide about Poland,” she said.
Plans presented by Polish President Andrzej Duda in September to soften some of the most controversial aspects of the reforms continue to give politicians power over the judiciary. Duda and PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński recently held a series of meetings to discuss planned changes, according to local media.
Timmermans called on Poland and the Commission to increase dialogue. He said he hopes a discussion on the reforms will also be held in Poland.