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EU Emissary Says Poland Committed to Ending Court Crisis

A European Union emissary said after meeting top Polish officials that the government had made a strong commitment to ending the constitutional crisis that has roiled the country since last year and sparked a clash with Brussels.

After a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo Tuesday afternoon, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said he was confident there would soon be an end to the crisis, brought on by wrangling between Poland’s main political players over appointments to the constitutional court.

“I want to thank [Ms. Szydlo] for expressing a strong commitment to the rule of law and the commitment to have the conflict…surrounding the constitutional court resolved,” he said at a news conference.

In a nod to the Polish government, which has reacted with outrage to outside pressure to end a conflict it sees as a domestic political matter, Mr. Timmermans said the matter is “a Polish problem that needs a Polish solution.”

“We had a good and constructive conversation,” Ms. Szydlo said.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice party has for months quarreled with left-leaning and centrist opposition parties over appointments to the court and the rules governing its work.

The EU has voiced fears that changes by the government, which swept to power in October, threaten judicial independence and the rule of law in Poland. The commission, the EU’s executive, had threatened to trigger a legal procedure on Monday that could end with the bloc stripping Warsaw of some of its voting rights in the EU.

However, Mr. Timmermans decided not to take that step and agreed to travel to Warsaw on Tuesday amid signs that Ms. Szydlo’s government was prepared to compromise, according to people familiar with the talks.

“I’m confident we are moving toward finding a sustainable solution to this problem,” Mr. Timmermans said. “We’ll continue our dialogue, and I hope that very soon we’ll be able to conclude the dialogue and that the problem will be resolved.”While in Warsaw, he also met with Constitutional Court Chief Justice Andrzej Rzeplinski.

A spokesman for the commission confirmed Tuesday that the EU would hold off, at least for the coming days, on initiating the legal procedure by formally adopting a critical report on Warsaw’s court plans.

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