One day after the European Union rejected Poland’s defence of its court reforms that critics say threaten democracy, Warsaw on March 21 accused Brussels of “double standards” in its treatment of member states.

The EU has threatened to take punitive action that could include stripping Poland of its voting rights if Warsaw does not retract legislation that tightens state controls over the judiciary.

“Nothing hurts the idea of European integration more than the actual inequality of its member states before the law, the use of double standards and the departure of the European Commission from its role as an objective guardian of treaties to [become] an instrument in the hands of some states,” Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told parliament.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Poland argues that in some other EU member states, including Spain and Germany, politicians also play a role in picking some judges. It says its judicial reforms are necessary to improve the efficiency and transparency of Poland’s court system.

The right-wing government in Warsaw is at loggerheads with the European Commission, the EU’s executive, on a range of issues, including migrant quotas. Poland is refusing to take in some of the mainly Muslim asylum seekers under the quota system.

As reported by Radio Poland online, Czaputowicz insisted the sweeping changes to Polish courts introduced by Law and Justice “do not violate the principles of a democratic state” governed by the rule of law but, on the contrary, “strengthen these principles”.

Despite tensions with Brussels, Czaputowicz said that Poland’s EU membership bolstered the country’s position on the international arena and brought a swathe of economic, political and social benefits.