Polish PM defends justice reforms to sceptical EU

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2018. (Reuters pic)

STRASBOURG: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended Warsaw’s controversial judicial reforms to a doubtful European Parliament on Wednesday, saying the overhaul was his government’s right.

The leader was addressing MEPs on the same day that Poland’s Supreme Court chief justice defied the latest judicial changes introduced by his ruling Law and Justice (PiS) government.

“Unity in diversity, our EU motto, is not an empty slogan,” Morawiecki told MEPs, citing the need to respect “national identities”.

“Every EU country has the right to develop its judicial system according to its own traditions,” Morawiecki added.

The speech was delivered just days after the EU launched another legal action against Poland over the measure, part of a long list of reforms that critics have decried as unconstitutional.

Morawiecki dismissed the idea that the EU was facing an unwelcome rise of populists, insisting that citizens were merely against the further integration of Europe.

“You can call that populism if you like, but in the end we have to answer the questions asked by our citizens,” he said.

Instead, “Europe is going through democratic enlightenment.”