Poland tells EU it will shut disciplinary chamber for judges

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland has told the European Union that it will shut down a chamber at its Supreme Court devoted to disciplining judges, an issue that has been at the center of a dispute between Warsaw and Brussels.

The Polish government said Tuesday that it sent a letter to the European Commission on Monday, the deadline Warsaw faced for informing the EU’s executive branch of how it would proceed with the Disciplinary Chamber after the EU’s top court said the chamber undermined judicial independence and contravened EU law.

In announcing that it would disband the chamber, the Polish government insisted that it needs to have ways to punish judges who break the law or otherwise abuse their positions. It said it would find ways to do this as it continues its reforms of the judicial system.

The government also insisted that Polish law has primacy over EU law, another question that has been aggravating tensions between the 27-member bloc and Poland, its fifth most populous member state.

In Brussels, EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said Poland’s letter was received and that it was being analyzed, but that he couldn’t comment further at this point.

Since Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party took power in 2015, it has overhauled the justice system in a way that has given the party new powers over the courts and appointment of judges. The changes have drawn strong criticism and warnings of sanctions from the EU, which considers many of the changes to violate the democratic principle of the separation of powers.

The European Commission had given Poland until Monday to heed the injunction, or face financial sanctions.

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