EU leader pledges help in ending Poland's crisis soon

AP News
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Posted: May 24, 2016 12:26 PM
EU leader pledges help in ending Poland's crisis soon

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A senior European Union leader has pledged support in finding a solution soon to Poland's political crisis that has strained the country's ties with Brussels.

But there seemed to be no breakthrough.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans spoke Tuesday in Warsaw following talks with Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on the government's proposals to end a stalemate that has paralyzed a top court and caused political divisions in Poland.

Timmermans said it was in the EU's interest to end Poland's political crisis, and the European Commission will continue its dialogue with Warsaw and do all to support that process. He stressed it was up to Poland and its politicians to end the stalemate, which, he believes, can be achieved soon.

Alarmed by government moves that have paralyzed Poland's Constitutional Tribunal, the European Commission has implemented the "rule of law" procedure aimed at protecting EU values, including respect for law and democracy, and has threatened sanctions. Potentially, Poland could be stripped of its EU voting rights.

Timmermans' talks with Szydlo seemed to remove the immediate threat of criticism or sanctions.

Szydlo insisted the government's aim was to make the tribunal's work transparent and efficient, while observing the rule of law, but she didn't specify the government's proposal for a solution.

Before meeting Szydlo, Timmermans held talks with the head of the Constitutional Tribunal, Andrzej Rzeplinski, who opposes government moves aimed at gaining influence over the court. The government has embarked on sweeping changes to the state and social life, including to the court, which has the power to put a check on new laws pushed by the ruling team.

An EU body of law experts, the so-called Venice Commission, has urged Poland's lawmakers to find a solution to the constitutional crisis.

Opposition leaders were also meeting Tuesday, aiming to agree on proposals, but it was not clear when they could meet with the conservative ruling Law and Justice party to seek a compromise.

The leader of the civic movement in defense of democracy, or KOD, Mateusz Kijowski, was meeting with EU Parliament leader Martin Schulz for talks on the situation in Poland.