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  • Timmermans pointed out that the EC recommends that the Polish authorities resolve all the judicial issues identified by the Commissioners within one month. He also stressed that the EC was glad that President Duda had declared a veto on two laws.

     
    “The doubts about the new law on the system of common courts are not justified," Deputy Minister Szymański stressed in a message sent to PAP, responding to the Commission’s position. 


    He made the case that the amendments adopted "in line with Article 19 of the Treaty (TEU) provide effective legal protection also in the areas covered by EU law." 


    According to Szymański, the regulations creating doubts by the European Commission "concern administrative functions and do not affect the judicial sphere of the Polish legal system". 


    "Improving the work of the courts, which is the main goal of the changes proposed by the Ministry of Justice, can only improve the quality of legal protection," he argued.

     
    Deputy Minister Szymański said that the European Commission "should consider to a greater extent in its deliberations the fact that the organization of justice falls within the competence of the Member States which, in their political and legislative processes, make their own decisions in this area." 


    He also pointed out that Poland "will address the detailed remarks of the European Commission in due course".


    Timmermans informed on Wednesday that the European Commission also has reservations about changes regarding the age at which judges should retire in accordance with the law on the system of common courts. 


    He pointed out that the retirement age for judges is currently the same for both men and women, while the reform is intended to create a differentiation between the two. 


    The deputy head of the European Commission said that this is "an infringement of Article 157 of the Treaty on the fashioning of the European Union and the Directive on Equality from 2000".

     
    Referring to these allegations, the Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that the changes criticized by Timmermans are a result of the restoration of the retirement age of 60 for women and 65 for men in the "generally applicable pension system in Poland". 


    “Making accusations of gender discrimination is somewhat strange given that Poland joined the EU with this clause in its pension system," Szymański noted. 


    He added that such a distinction "was not contested during the eight years of Poland's membership in the EU".
     

    On Monday, President Andrzej Duda announced that he had decided to veto a new law on the Supreme Court and to amend the Act on the National Judicial Council; he also announced the preparation of his own draft law on the Supreme Court and the National Judicial Council within two months. 


    On Tuesday, the president signed an amendment to the Law on the system of common courts which changes the rules for appointing and dismissing the heads of courts by increasing the powers of the Minister of Justice. It also introduces rules for the random allocation of cases to judges.
     

    Opposition parties and circles protested against the planned judiciary changes when they were being prepared by parliament; the protesters demanded a presidential veto against all three bills.
     

    On 19th July the EC announced that in connection with the planned changes in the judiciary in Poland it is close to launching Art. 7 of the EU Treaty, which allows sanctions. 


    "They remove the independence of the courts and threaten the rule of law in Poland," Timmermans said.

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