>> Warsaw has put itself on a collision course with Brussels. Poland's ruling party taking de facto control over its judicial system from midnight Tuesday. The European Commission says that undermines the independence of judges and is against EU law. But its response has exposed strains in an already fractured union.
Reuters' Justyna Pawlak is in Warsaw.>> That's the essence of the program. There are parts of Brussels concerned that doing too little will embolden the Euro skeptics, and it would embolden populists around the bloc. Whereas others are concerned that if you move too strongly, it will fan the flames of Euro skepticism and populism.
>> The reform plans are the work of the ruling Law and Justice party. Last year, they sparked protests across Poland. The most divisive measure will abruptly lower the retirement age of Supreme Court judges. That could force one-third of serving members to resign on Wednesday. They could be replaced by government appointees, while ministers also plan to name extra new judges of their choosing.
What happens next will be closely watched across the bloc.>> Some countries have made it very clear, such as Hungary, that they would defend Poland against the most punitive measures that the EU has in its arsenal. Whereas there are others, like countries in the Baltics, that maybe haven't threatened to veto any sanctions against Poland, but are sympathetic.
There's the question of countries like Romania, where the government is also moving against the judiciary.>> As in the US, liberals worry that changes to the judicial system will entrench control of the courts by conservative politicians. One looming issue is the same, too. The Law and Justice party has twice tried to astrict Poland's already tight laws on abortion.
Both times they lacked public support. But if the government gets more sway over the courts, that could make it easier to pass its policies into law, even without voters' consent.