Poland sees end to EU differences

Polish secretary of state for EU affairs Konrad Szymanski said he made Warsaw's case for the reforms -- deemed necessary to remove communist leftovers in the country -- and was pleased with the outcome of two hours of talks with his EU peers

Poland told its EU partners Tuesday that differences over reforms of the judiciary, which Brussels says undermine the rule of law and may merit punishment, were coming to an end.

Polish secretary of state for EU affairs Konrad Szymanski said he made Warsaw's case for the reforms -- deemed necessary to remove communist leftovers in the country -- and was pleased with the outcome of two hours of talks with his EU peers.

"I think we have satisfied the EU's curiosity over the judicial reforms in Poland," Szymanski said after the meeting in Luxembourg.

"I am convinced that we are near to the end our differences with the EU," he said, adding that the talks had been about concrete issues, unlike previous general and politically driven exchanges with the European Commission.

In December, Brussels triggered unprecedented Article 7 proceedings against Poland over "systemic threats" to the rule of law, which could eventually see Warsaw's EU voting rights suspended.

European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans has been leading discussions with Warsaw to try and find a solution but on Tuesday he said they had not made any progress.

The exchanges allowed for better understanding and this should help efforts to find a solution, said minister Ekaterina Zaharieva of Bulgaria which holds the current six-month rotating EU presidency.

"A new meeting will be organised to review (Poland's) responses and the reaction (of member states) in order to determine what to do next on the article 7 probe," Zaharieva said.

Minister Szymanski charged that "a certain number of countries clearly preferred to take an aggressive attitude" towards Poland.

For his part Germany's Michael Roth said "this is not about humiliating Poland but we want to know if the Polish government intends to work to respect the independence of the judiciary."

"Without concrete commitments, this process could go on forever."

France's Nathalie Loiseau told reporters that talks since December had not made any substantial difference and the situation was becoming urgent as the judicial changes in Poland came into effect.

Polish secretary of state for EU affairs Konrad Szymanski said he made Warsaw's case for the reforms -- deemed necessary to remove communist leftovers in the country -- and was pleased with the outcome of two hours of talks with his EU peers