EU-Poland spat: Juncker and Morawiecki talk judicial reforms and sanctions | News | DW | 08.03.2018
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EU-Poland spat: Juncker and Morawiecki talk judicial reforms and sanctions

Poland is facing a March deadline to roll back recent reforms that threaten judicial independence or face EU sanctions. So far there has been little headway with Warsaw insisting it will stand its ground.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met with EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker on Thursday in a bid to smooth over strained ties between the European Union and Poland.

Since assuming power in 2015, the ruling (PiS) party has passed a series of reforms to the Polish judiciary. These include granting the president greater powers to appoint judges to the Supreme Court, whose duties include confirming election results.

Brussels said the new laws undermined EU values and threatened judicial independence and ordered Warsaw to rescind them. Poland refused, insisting the system was corrupt and in need of reform. 

Read more: Kaczynski: Poland will stand its ground in EU spat

After two years of dialogue, there has been no solution. Thus, last December the Commission recommended invoking Article 7 that could lead to the suspension of Poland's voting rights in the EU unless it concedes ground by March 20.

A week ago Thursday, the European Parliament voted 422 in favor to 147 against, with 48 abstentions, on a nonbinding resolution to support the Commission's action against the EU's largest former communist state.

Read more: What is Article 7 of the EU Treaty?

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EU takes disciplinary steps against Poland

Consequences for Poland         

It is unlikely that Poland will lose its EU voting rights because it would require unanimity among all other EU governments, and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, himself seen by the EU as weakening democratic checks and balances, has promised to block any such action against his Polish ally.

However, it would be politically very embarrassing for Poland if the EU ever comes to vote on sanctions, even with a Hungarian veto.

Read more: Poland: How feasible is a 'Polexit?'

Another problem for Poland is that the dispute could also prompt member states to cut funds allocated to them in the next EU budget that runs from 2021. Poland is currently the biggest beneficiary of EU handouts for infrastructure and other projects.

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Mateusz Morawiecki on Conflict Zone

av/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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