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EU warns Poland of action against court reforms

First Vice-President of the EC in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights Frans Timmermans gives a joint press on the Rule of Law in Poland and read-out of the College meeting at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, on May 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The EU will "immediately" take steps to halt Poland's voting rights in the bloc if it pushes through with controversial reforms of the country's top court, European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans said Wednesday.

Timmermans said he welcomed the fact that Polish President Andrzej Duda had vetoed two judicial reforms introduced by the right-wing government, including the Supreme Court overhaul, but noted that two other laws had already been passed.

"The commission's recommendation asks the Polish authorities not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges. If such a measure is taken the commission is ready to immediately trigger the Article 7 procedure," Timmermans said.

Article 7 is a never-before-used EU process that is designed to uphold the rule of law, a so-called "nuclear option" that can freeze a country's right to vote in meetings of EU ministers.

Dutchman Timmermans said that Brussels was still putting Warsaw on notice amid continuing fears that the Polish government's reforms could jeopardize the independence of the judiciary.

People hold candles and Polish national flags as they take part in a demonstration in front of the Polish Supreme Court on July 23, 2017 in Warsaw to protest against the new bill changing the judiciary system. (Photo by AFP)

"In this past week some things have changed in Poland -- and some things have not," Timmermans said after European Commissioner met to discuss the issue for the second week in a row.

"We must acknowledge and welcome that President Duda has announced his decision to veto two of the four laws," he said.

"However the fact that two of the four laws have been signed, and that work will continue on the other two, means that we must set out clearly our concern" in a fresh legal recommendation, he added.

(Source: AFP)

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