Reuters International

Leader of the Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Flag Day holiday at the Parliament in Warsaw, Poland May 2, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski/via REUTERS


WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland may go to the top European Union court to challenge an EU rule of law procedure launched against it earlier this year if Brussels steps up its pressure on Warsaw, the head of the ruling conservative party has said.

The EU launched an unprecedented inquiry in January into whether Poland's new eurosceptic government had breached the EU's democratic standards through its attempted reform of the country's constitutional court.

The first use of the EU executive's new Rule of Law Framework, adopted in 2014, could eventually lead to sanctions such as a suspension of Poland's voting rights in the EU's executive.

"The procedure that is currently being used against us is a non-treaty procedure, a made-up one, and it can be challenged in the Court of Justice of the European Union at any moment," said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the Law and Justice party (PiS).

"If it gets fierce, we will do this," he told the Do Rzeczy weekly in an interview published on Monday.

The row stems from changes Poland's new government imposed on the country's constitutional court late last year that increased the size of majorities required for rulings and changed the order in which cases are heard. The EU said those changes undermined the court's independence.

EU and Polish officials have met several times to discuss possible solutions to the standoff, but without success.

Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski signalled last week that Warsaw was ready to give some ground to end the crisis.

Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Monday he hoped the European Commission would stop the procedure. "There are no grounds to start a procedure of penalising Poland," he told private broadcaster TVN24.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Wiktor Szary; Editing by Tom Heneghan)


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