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High Court Warning: Poland May Be Forced Out of EU

Ruling party's judicial reform proposals could lead to issues with European Union law
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2019 7:47 AM CST
Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks before the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2019, at UN headquarters.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(Newser) – Poland's ruling party is attempting to overhaul how its judiciary functions, but the country's supreme court is warning those reform proposals could force Poland out of the European Union. Per the BBC and Euronews, the reforms put forth by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party would allow for the dismissal of judges who questioned the reforms or the nomination of other judges, those who take part in "political activity," or any who are seen as trying to "damage the workings of the judicial system." While PiS says the reforms are necessary to tamp down corruption, critics say they'll be used to silence dissenters in a throwback to Poland's communist era.

Part of the pushback on judicial nominations spurs from a change in process in 2018, when PiS changed the laws so that it wielded more control over the National Judicial Council, the body that's supposed to ensure the judiciary remains independent. The PiS proposal is an "attempt to force all judges ... to apply all the laws voted by the majority in power," the high court said in a 40-page document, even if a judge or a court feels such laws are "incompatible with upper legal standards." That "contradiction between Polish and EU law ... will lead with high probability to an intervention by institutions of the European Union for infringement of EU treaties," which could lead to "the need to leave the European Union," the Polish high court warned. Deutsche Welle notes that public support is high for Poland, which joined the EU in 2004, to remain a member. (Read more Poland stories.)

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