EU warns Poland over judicial reforms as thousands protest
(Vatican Radio) The European Union's executive has warned that the block is coming closer to imposing sanctions on Poland for the government's attempt to take control over the judiciary. Wednesday's announcement came just hours after Poland's president said he had proposed a compromise over contentious court reforms, as thousands of people protested in the capital Warsaw.
Several thousand Polish people, many with burning candles, made clear they hope politicians will still see the light. They gathered overnight in front of Warsaw's presidential palace in a peaceful protest against controversial judicial reforms.
Inside, Polish President Andrzej Duda made clear that he heard the voice of concerned crowds. He proposed a compromise over the disputed court reforms.
Parliament recently approved a bill that critics say gives the government and legislators the power to select members of a body that nominate judges.
Opponents say the move would erode the independence of the judiciary.
Duda proposed that nominations to the body would need more than a simple parliamentary majority. It would mean the governing right-wing and populist Law and Justice Party (PiS) would require the support of at least one other party to ensure its nominees are approved.
President Duda said that if the lower house did not support his change to the legislation, he would not sign a separate controversial law on changes to the supreme court.
The European Union closely follows the developments. The EU's executive European Commission has threatened with sanctions against Poland.
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said that the EU was closer to triggering Article 7 against Poland because its recent steps toward the judiciary in his words "greatly amplify the threat to the rule of law" and threatens to put the judiciary "under full political control" of the government. "That's why we had a discussion today in college, how to respond to this," he told reporters.
Timmermans stressed that a dialogue between the EU and Poland should continue, but this is the latest in a series of clashes between Poland and Brussels. European leaders have also expressed concern about government efforts to control the media and other measures seen as undermining the country's democratic credentials.