Poland close to ending dispute with Brussels: conservative leader

Poland is well on track to end a dispute with Brussels over legal changes, the leader of the country’s ruling conservatives has said.

Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, said in a media interview that his country had an “80 percent” chance of reaching an agreement with Brussels over disputed judicial reforms.

This echoed an earlier statement by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who told an online news service that the odds of Warsaw striking a deal with Brussels could be estimated at around “65 to 70 percent at the moment.”

“We are planning to make changes to the law as agreed with the European Commission,” Kaczyński told Gazeta Polska weekly in an interview that was published on Wednesday.

He added that such changes were “not easy,” but needed to be carried out “to bring the situation back to normal.”

Morawiecki told the wPolityce.pl website in late March that “there is a good chance of an agreement, of finding a compromise that would be acceptable to both sides.”

The European Commission in December took the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over controversial changes to the justice system by the country’s ruling conservatives.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said last month that Poland wanted Brussels to withdraw its Article 7 procedure against Warsaw.

He was speaking after the country’s ruling conservatives signalled they were ready to accommodate some of the EU executive’s recommendations over sweeping changes to the court system in Poland.

Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party has come forward with a series of legislative initiatives to modify disputed laws regulating the work of the country’s common court system and the Supreme Court.

Under the legislation, the justice minister would no longer be able to dismiss court presidents and deputy presidents without consulting judges and the powerful National Council of the Judiciary.

In a further modification of existing regulations which politicians said was intended to accommodate the European Commission’s recommendations, the retirement age of male and female judges would be set at an equal level of 65 years of age.

And in yet another step designed to help reach an agreement with Brussels, the country’s ruling conservatives said they were ready to publish three Constitutional Tribunal judgments that the ruling party argues the top court issued in violation of the law in 2016.

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