The European Union has sued Poland today in the EU’s highest court over its ruling party’s changes to the judiciary, which the bloc believes violates the independence of the courts.

“The European Commission maintains that the Polish law on the Supreme Court is incompatible with EU law as it undermines the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges,” the EU’s executive Commission said in announcing the move.

In the first time the bloc has taken a member state to court over the rule of law, the case caps months of confrontation between the EU and Poland, which is rushing to force nearly two-fifths of its Supreme Court justices, including the president, into retirement.

The dispute is an symbol a struggle across the EU in which populist politicians are unraveling checks and balances and raising alarm over the erosion of democratic norms.

It’s the second time since last year that the commission, in and amongst political controversy, has asked the EU’s top court to intervene. In 2017, it won an order forcing Poland to stop increased logging in the Bialowieza Forest, one of Europe’s last remaining primeval environments. Poland eventually complied and agreed to stop mass logging.

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