poljska zastava.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Lukas Plewnia, used under CC BY-SA

The European Commission is overreaching its competence by weighing into a debate about a controversial new reform of the nation's judicial system, the Polish government said.

"Brussels wants to be a super government. That's forbidden," Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Monday on news station TVN24.

"The gentlemen from the European Commission have removed themselves from reality."

The controversy revolves around reforms to the country's Constitutional Tribunal, which critics say are intended to strengthen the government's grip on the judicial branch and would undermine democracy and rule of law.

In January, the European Commission launched an inquiry into the Polish reforms, using an unprecedented mechanism aimed at protecting the bloc's fundamental values.

Last week, the commission had said that it would give Poland until Monday to respond to its concerns or else issue a formal set of objections if substantial progress is not made.

By midday on Monday, the commission was "still talking constructively with the Polish authorities," spokesman Margaritis Schinas told journalists in Brussels.

"We hope to find solutions," he added.

Schinas declined to say when the next step might be taken and rejected suggestions that the commission had set an "ultimatum" for Monday.

If the European Union's executive issues a rule of law opinion spelling out its concerns, Warsaw would then have the opportunity to respond before the commission recommends a course of action to remedy the situation.

In the case of non-compliance, Poland could in theory ultimately face a suspension of voting rights in the EU.

The bloc's concerns relate in particular to laws on the government's ability to appoint judges to the Constitutional Tribunal and making it harder to pass rulings, as well as media reforms giving Warsaw a greater say over senior appointments to the public broadcasters.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said Monday in Brussels that the EU shouldn't continue with its inquiry into the Polish law.

"This is a procedure that by far oversteps the European treaty," he said.

"We didn't agree to that kind of union [when joining the EU]."

Latest news

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for 'The Truth' with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.