Poland’s top politician hints at easing judicial changes

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The leader of Poland’s ruling party hinted Monday that the government could ease controversial changes to the justice system that have become a sticking point with EU officials in Brussels, who say they are violating the rule of law and withhold the Warsaw coronavirus recovery fund.

Poland’s most powerful politician, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has told Polish radio that a deep court reform launched by his right-wing government is not possible now.

He blamed this on the EU’s approach and decisions taken by previous Polish governments. But his words seemed to imply that he would no longer push for the full implementation of his plan.

Kaczynski’s comments come as Poland and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, continue discussions this week on the steps Poland needs to take, including in the area of ​​justice. The payment of billions of euros in EU grants and loans for the pandemic recovery to Poland can only be released after Brussels confirms that Warsaw has reversed the divisive changes.

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The Polish state budget deficit is expected to increase significantly this year, due to high spending on social benefits and defense in response to the war in neighboring Ukraine. EU funds could improve the situation.

Kaczynski’s right-wing Law and Justice Party took power in 2015. It began to overhaul the justice system, placing loyalists in key posts and firing judges and prosecutors who criticized its decisions. The Polish opposition and the EU claim that these measures have placed judges under political control, in violation of democratic standards.

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