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Poland's ruling party shrugs off Brussels deadline

PR dla Zagranicy
Alicja Baczyńska 16.06.2016 09:00
Wednesday marked the end of a two-week deadline for Warsaw to respond to the European Commission's opinion on the state of democracy in Poland amid an ongoing dispute over the country's top court.
Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. Photo: PAP/Stanisław RozpędzikLaw and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. Photo: PAP/Stanisław Rozpędzik

The EC's rule-of-law procedure initiated by the European Commission against Poland is "outside the scope of the EU treaty", head of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party Jarosław Kaczyński said on Wednesday.

The deadline comes in the wake of the Commission's opinion on the rule of law in Poland released on 1 June, after contacts with the Polish authorities failed to bring about solutions to problems raised by the EC concerning the Constitutional Tribunal.

The rule-of-law procedure initiated against Poland earlier this year is "completely arbitrary, groundless," the head of the conservative grouping said.

"It is only an act of good will on our part that we have so far complied with it, although we do not have to," Kaczyński told journalists in Krakow.

This sentiment was echoed in a statement by Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski: "These are internal rules of the European Commission, internal deadlines of the European Commission."

"These are deadlines that oblige the Commission to do something, but not a sovereign EU member state, whether it be Poland, France or any other country," Waszczykowski told journalists during his Wednesday visit to Israel.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Beata Szydło had stated that the Polish government's stand on the European Commission's opinion would be forwarded "in due time".

Meanwhile, deputy foreign minister Alexander Stępkowski said that recent statements by EC representatives indicate that "the commission would be satisfied if the Polish government’s response was submitted in June." He stressed that “the Polish government is very intent on maintaining a good dialogue with Brussels, and is therefore likely to meet the commission’s expectations."

In January, the European Commission launched a probe to determine whether controversial laws pushed through by Law and Justice, in power since October, violate EU standards.

The key issues raised by the European Commission in result include the composition of Poland's top court, refusal to publish and implement the tribunal's rulings, alongside the December amendments to the tribunal law, which, critics say, undermine the court's powers.

A team of experts recently called up by the PiS-dominated Parliament is to release a report on the Constitutional Tribunal within the next four weeks. The task force was established after the Venice Commission criticised Poland over a lack of progress in finding a solution to the dispute surrounding the tribunal.

Poland has been locked in a political stalemate after the Law and Justice party, which came to power in October, introduced sweeping reforms to the Constitutional Tribunal and other institutions, prompting anti-government protests and criticism from abroad.(mo/aba)

Source: PAP

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