Brussels threatens Poland sanctions, unprecedented for its judicial reforms

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In addition to article 7, he also discussed the possibility of launching as early as next week "infringement procedures" against Warsaw, the instrument most frequently used within the EU when a country does not comply with the european law, and that can lead to financial sanctions.

Lawmakers voted 434-6 with one abstention for the commission for justice and human rights to review and issue its opinion on the draft law, which gives politicians, not lawyers, the power over appointments to the Supreme Court and reorganizes its structure. The president will handpick the new composition of the court, although his decision will require a sign-off from the justice minister.

"If implemented in their current form, these laws would have a very significant negative impact on the independence of the judiciary and would increase the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland".

Meanwhile, demonstrators are marching in Warsaw, Krakow and other Polish cities to protest the threat to the court's independence, the Krakow Post reports. Critics say it kills judicial independence and violates the rule of law.

Tusk also called on Duda to prevent the Supreme Court bill from entering into force, saying it was damaging, risked marginalising Poland and ruining its reputation.

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They would put the "judiciary under the full political control of the government" and make "the judges serve at the "pleasure of the political leaders", Jean-Claude Juncker's deputy told reporters". A set of legislative changes, introduced last week and voted to a parliamentary committee on July 18, provides for an on-the-spot purge of the entire cadre of Poland's highest appellate panel, which consists of 83 top judges.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has held power for a year and a half, has in rapid succession taken over the public prosecution authority, the Constitutional Tribunal and - on July 12, 2017 - the National Council of Judiciary, which appoints and promotes judges.

Thousands took to the streets at the weekend in opposition to the proposed judicial changes in Poland, accusing Law and Justice of aiming to stack courts with its own candidates and to dismantle the rule of law.

Brussels/Warsaw: The EU on Wednesday gave Warsaw a week to halt judicial reforms it said would put courts under direct government control, or face punishment for undermining democracy in the largest ex-communist member of the bloc.

Tusk also said in a statement that he had asked Poland's President Andrzej Duda for a meeting to discuss the "political crisis" in the largest ex-communist European Union member state.

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PiS plans to send the legislation passed by parliament to the senate this week and then to the president.

After the passing of the bill, protests in Warsaw - in front of the parliament building and the president's seat - were getting under way amidst a heavy police presence.

Protesters were kicking the metal barriers that separate them from the parliament and chanting "Shame".

The European Commission has warned it could strip Poland of its European Union voting rights over the changes the government is making to the judiciary.

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