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Pro-democracy march in Warsaw, Poland.

Piotr Lapinski via Reuters Connect

The EU is planning to sue Poland

Tensions over the rule of law between Poland and the EU took a (double) turn for the worse this week.

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Anti Polexit banner is seen during 'We're staying in EU' demonstration at the Main Square in Krakow, Poland on October 10, 2021.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto

What We're Watching: EU-Poland judicial fight, Turkey joins Haiti prez murder probe, Pfizer’s COVID pill deal

EU vs Poland (yes, again). The EU's top court on Tuesday ruled that Poland's recent judicial reforms, which give the government leeway to appoint sympathetic justices, violate EU rule-of-law norms. Warsaw claims that its own constitutional court has already decided that Polish law supersedes EU law, so the stalemate continues. The EU and Poland have been fighting over this issue for years, but Brussels has recently begun showing its frustration with Poland — and Hungary too — over these issues. While the "illiberal" governments of both countries are popular, the EU also knows that most Hungarians and Poles want to stay in the 27-member union, and Brussels' ability to delay badly-needed EU pandemic relief money is a strong point of leverage. Defying Brussels is already starting to get expensive for Warsaw — in a separate judicial dispute, the EU is fining Poland 1 million euros ($1.1 million) per day until it abides by the bloc's rule-of-law norms.

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What We're Watching: EU sues Poland, pandemic widens global gender gap, Niger foils coup attempt

EU takes Poland to top court: In a significant escalation in the ongoing row between Brussels and Warsaw, the EU has referred Poland to Europe's top court, citing concerns over its undermining of judicial independence. Brussels has long expressed concern about the dilution of democratic norms under President Andrzej Duda and his ruling Law and Justice party, which came to power in 2015. Since then, Duda has given broad powers to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which has purged and suspended Polish judges who are critical of government actions and cut the salaries of judges who oppose changes to the judicial system. Brussels has long been at loggerheads with member states Hungary and Poland, both of which are led by "illiberal" populists. This came to a head last year when Brussels included a provision in the bloc's pandemic recovery package that made disbursement of funds contingent on respecting EU rule-of-law norms.

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