"This is no reform, it's destruction" - EU's Jourova on Polish judiciary

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Vera Jourova says EU executive wants to open "new chapter" with Poland
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Vera Jourova says EU executive wants to open "new chapter" with Poland

Poland's overhaul of its judiciary constitutes "destruction" not reform, EU Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova said in an interview for Der Spiegel published on Saturday, amid growing concern that Poland's nationalists are seeking to muzzle judges.

Since coming to power in 2015, Poland's eurosceptic, nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has introduced a series of judicial reforms that EU officials and democracy activists say may breach the bloc's standards on the rule of law.

Its most recent reforms aim to discipline judges who question court appointments under new rules, introducing measures that critics say are designed to silence dissent.

"This is no longer a targeted intervention against individual black sheep, similar to other EU member states, but a case of carpet bombing," Jourova told German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.

"This is no reform, it's destruction."

Zbigniew Ziobro and Vera Jourova
TVN24

"All out war"

"This interview is striking as it exposes the true essence of what is happening in Polish justice system. This is no joke anymore, this isn't playing games with the European institutions, this is an all out war" - the new chairman of Civic Platform Borys Budka said during the party's convention on Saturday.

"PiS is waging a war, not to reform anything, but to ensure impunity for its members" - he added.

Mr Budka underlined that "today it's all about whether we will be in the European Union, or the sidelines, and later on outside the Union".

"One of the conditions for Poland staying in the EU is Poles saying farewell to president Andrzej Duda in May, as president Andrzej Duda is a guarantee of taking Poland out of the EU" - Civic Platform leader stressed.

Borys Budka at Civic Platform's convention
Tomasz Gzell/PAP

"Hands off Polish courts"

Her comments came as over a thousand demonstrators gathered in front of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw to support the reforms, arguing they are necessary to protect Poland's sovereignty.

Protestors carried Polish flags and placards saying "EU's politicians, hands off Polish courts" and "We support the reform of courts." A series of protests against the reforms have also taken place across Poland in recent months.

PiS says the reforms will make the court system more efficient and root out the leftovers of communism. Poland's President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, signed the most recent changes into law this week.

Demonstrators in front of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal holding banners saying: "We support the reform of courts"
PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik

Jourova said the Commission was scrutinising the new law and keeping all legal options open.

She visited Poland in January and met with a number of Polish officials, including Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, Senate speaker and opposition member Tomasz Grodzki and Poland's Human Rights Commissioner Adam Bodnar.

During her visit, she expressed a willingness to enter into a dialogue with Poland's government.

Her visit came after the European Commission said it was "very concerned" about the Polish changes to the judiciary.

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Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters

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