Polish president seeks more power over courts in judiciary reform

Polish President Andrzej Duda has demanded a greater say over the nomination of judges, in proposals closely scrutinized by the European Union and rights groups.

WARSAW, Poland (REUTERS) - Watched closely by the European Union, Poland's President has unveiled proposals which will give him more power over its judicary.

In what is being seen as a critical test of Warsaw's respect to rule-of-law standards, President Andrzej Duda wants to change the constiution - to have a greater say over the nomination of top judges.

The retirement age for Supreme Court judges would be set to 65 and Duda would also be able to decide whether they can work longer.

The eurosceptic PiS party, an ally of the president's, says reform of the judicial system is needed because the courts are slow, inefficient and steeped in a communist-era mentality,

However, critics say it is part of a bigger drive towards authoritarianism.

After nationwide protests, Duda unexpectedly vetoed two of three reform bills proposed by the law and justice party in July.

Under the vetoed reforms, all current Supreme Court judges would have been removed immediately unless they had the approval of the justice minister.

Poland is locked in a dispute with the European Commission over the legal changes in the country.

It is concerned the courts will be politicised.

Brussels is applying mounting pressure on Warsaw, with some EU members considering punishment for the nationalist Pis ruling cabinet over democratic standards.