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EU again Chides Poland over Rule of Law; Threatens Sanctions

EU again Chides Poland over Rule of Law; Threatens Sanctions

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 11:15 AM

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's executive branch on Wednesday escalated its dispute over Poland's democratic credentials, giving Warsaw three months to fix perceived legislative flaws regarding the country's top constitutional court or having EU sanctions move closer.

"The Commission believes there is a systematic threat to the rule of law in Poland," the EU executive said in a scathing statement.

EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans also rejected legislative changes Poland introduced Friday in an attempt to end the controversy over the country's top court.

"The fundamental concerns are still unresolved," Timmermans said. "This new law does not address the threat to the rule of law" but introduces "new problematic provisions."

The Polish government called the EU move "premature" and said Brussels' actions "expose the Commission to a loss of its authority."

For months now, both sides have been fighting over who is the final arbiter over a nation's law. As so often within the 28-nation bloc, it's a fight over a nation's sovereignty versus a multinational body seeking to uphold common standards.

Such quarrels have contributed to a malaise within the EU and last month's British decision to leave the group.

For Timmermans though, there is no backing off from defending fundamental democratic principles.

"It is all about the independence of the judiciary" as a cornerstone of Western democracy, he said.

Poland has been stuck for months in controversy over its 15-member Constitutional Tribunal, a body that rules on the constitutionality of laws, a role similar to that of the U.S. Supreme Court. The dispute concerns both appointments to the court and the rules that govern how it functions.

Timmermans said the EU has recommended that three judges appointed by Poland's previous government can take their seats on the court and that three picked by the new legislature should not, due to questionable rule changes. It wants Poland's top court not to be undermined by new rules pushed through by the new conservative government.

The EU can go as far as scrapping Poland's voting rights in the bloc, but several steps still need to be taken for that to happen.

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The European Union's executive branch on Wednesday escalated its dispute over Poland's democratic credentials, giving Warsaw three months to fix perceived legislative flaws regarding the country's top constitutional court or having EU sanctions move closer."The Commission...
EU,Poland,EU
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2016-15-27
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 11:15 AM
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