Reuters BRUSSELS (Reuters) — Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday defended Poland’s controversial court overhaul and brought a warning to Brussels that the European Union’s heavy criticism of the reforms could backfire.
Morawiecki was meeting European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, in the latest high-level contact between Warsaw and Brussels aimed at resolving their row over concerns around democratic standards in the biggest ex-communist EU state.
Juncker gave Morawiecki a bearhug before the Pole presented him with Warsaw’s “white paper” on the new laws. Morawiecki later told journalists he expected the Commission to analyze the text thoroughly, which could take weeks.
The reforms by his ruling nationalists have been criticized by civil society campaigners, international democracy watchdogs, the EU and opposition parties in Poland for subjecting the courts to more government control.
“These talks were very constructive and very promising,” Morawiecki said after meeting Juncker.
“We will certainly continue them and I hope that, sooner or later, our views will converge even more, will converge enough to reach a full agreement on the judicial reform we proposed to our citizens.”
The Polish document says the reforms are needed to improve efficiency and remove judges “entangled in dishonorable service” in Poland’s pre-1989 communist regime.
But it also warns western, more liberal EU states not to push Warsaw too much at the risk of “strengthening anti-European sentiment” in Poland.
“It can lead to the growth of populist political forces, seeking to dismantle or weaken ... the European Union,” the document says. A Commission spokesman later said the bloc had received it and dialogue would continue.
Brussels last year took steps to penalize Warsaw and force it to change tack on media and court reforms imposed since the Law and Justice party took power in 2015.