EU's Timmermans say dialogue has improved with Poland
Apr. 09, 2018
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A top European Union official said Monday that a change of government in Warsaw has led to better dialogue as the two sides seek to resolve a dispute over an overhaul of the court system in Poland.
However, Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the European Commission — the body that enforces EU laws — said there is still no agreement.
"For too long we didn't have a dialogue, we just exchanged letters," Timmermans said.
But a change of government at the start of the year "led to a change of atmosphere in our relationship and it has allowed us to — not that we immediately agree — but it allowed us to have a dialogue, an open and frank dialogue."
Since Poland's ruling Law and Justice party won elections in 2015 it has passed laws that give it much greater control over the judicial system. The Commission considers that the changes as a whole violate the democratic principle of separation of powers.
Late last year EU leaders triggered a sanctioning procedure, Article 7, against Poland, a step that could lead the central European country to be stripped of its voting rights.
Officials in Warsaw fear that even if it doesn't lose its voting rights it could very well lose the massive EU subsidies that the ex-communist country still relies on.
In Warsaw, Timmermans met with top judges and political leaders, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. Those ministers got their jobs as part of the government shakeup, which was aimed at improving dialogue with the EU.