WARSAW, April 9 (Xinhua) -- EU actions have been useful in focusing attention on problems with the rule of law in Poland and it must continue, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said on Tuesday in an interview with the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
Timmermans said EU actions included triggering the Article 7 disciplinary procedure, which could theoretically lead to suspending Poland's EU voting rights, infringement procedures and taking the country to the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court.
"I continue to hope that this process will eventually lead to changes that will ensure that there are no longer structural threats to the rule of law in Poland. This is a long and difficult process, but I continue to believe that it has its advantages and that it's necessary to continue with it," Timmermans said.
Poland has been embroiled in a conflict with Brussels over laws to reform the judiciary which the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party passed after coming to power in 2015.
In 2017, the European Commission triggered the Article 7 procedure against Poland, arguing the PiS reforms put the country's justice system "under the political control of the ruling majority".
In December last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that Poland had to suspend a law that forced some Supreme Court judges to retire.
The European Court is now set to rule on whether Poland's Judicial Council -- a body responsible for nominating judges -- continues to be a guarantor of judicial independence following the reforms.
"For me it is very important that judges throughout the EU can do their work without being inhibited by fears of disciplinary sanctions if they say something that the government doesn't like. Such a situation is in clear contradiction with the principle of judiciary independence," Timmermans said on Tuesday.
The Polish government has argued that the judicial reforms were needed to improve the efficiency of the system and cleanse it of its corruption-ridden past.