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Polish response to threat of European Commission sanction unlikely to defuse situation

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Polish response to threat of European Commission sanction unlikely to defuse situation

20180120_BLP522
20180120_BLP522
Photo: PA

The European Commission has set today as Poland’s deadline to comply with EC demands to reform its existing judicial system.

In response to the reforms, which give the right-leaning government power to appoint and dismiss judges, the EC invoked Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which, if carried through to its fullest extent, could see Poland’s voting rights in EU decision-making bodies suspended.

Two weeks ago, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki responded with a 96-page position paper, which primarily provides a defence of the country’s judiciary changes, arguing they do not politicise the judiciary to an extent that eliminates its freedom to exercise independent judgement. As such, the report is unlikely to appease the EC.

Consequently, expect the EC to encourage the continued invocation of Article 7. Eurosceptic Hungary under PM Victor Orbán has already pledged to block such a move, meaning tensions are likely to continue to simmer. With Poland’s refusing to implement EC-desired reforms and the EU blocked from fully reprimanding it, EU member states in favour of taking action appear to be left only with the option of using diplomatic pressure to get Hungary, Poland or both to bend.

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