E.U. Rebukes Poland Over Vetoed Bills, but Backs Off Harsher Threat

The commission gave Poland a deadline of a month to respond to its concerns and said it would add this dispute to the list of other complaints it has with Warsaw, Mr. Timmermans said.

The complaints, a so-called Rule of Law Declaration, involve a lengthy legal process that can last years and result in economic sanctions, though that is considered unlikely.

Poland’s ruling party, Law and Justice, and its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, were stunned on Monday when President Andrzej Duda — who ran for president as the party’s candidate and previously had steadfast support of the government — vetoed the bills.

One bill would have forced the resignations of all of Poland’s Supreme Court justices, who would have been replaced by government-chosen jurists. The other would have reconfigured the National Council of the Judiciary, the body that chooses who is eligible to be a judge, which would give the government more control and require judges to be approved by parliament.

But the proposals drew more than a week of widespread street protests and a cascade of criticism from officials in Brussels and elsewhere who said the bills, if enacted, would crush judicial independence and threaten the rule of law.

Mr. Duda signed a third bill that gives the justice minister the power to fire and replace the heads of all of the country’s regional courts.

Mr. Timmermans said on Wednesday that the signing of that third bill was reason enough to add the dispute to the earlier complaint. “In the past week, some things have changed in Poland and some things have not,” he said.

“The commission’s recommendation asks the Polish authorities not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges,” he added.

Mr. Duda said he would draft his own versions of the vetoed court bills and present them to Parliament in two months. Rafal Bochenek, a spokesman for the government, said it would wait to see those drafts…

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