The European Union is launching action against Poland over allegations that recent laws introduced by the government undermine the independence of judges.

The EU's executive commission said Wednesday that it has sent a letter of formal notice — the first step in legal action — to Poland and wants a reply addressing its concerns within two months.

Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans says that disciplinary measures for judges introduced in 2017 appear "to systematically subject judges to the political control of the executive."

Timmermans says the rules have "an obvious, chilling effect on the independence of judges."

He says Poland has a chance to explain or change its mind about the laws.

The commission says it is acting to safeguard the rule of law in Poland.