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EU member states to discuss rule of law in Poland

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 16.05.2017 11:54
Nothing is happening in Poland that would justify discussions on the rule of law in the country, the Polish foreign minister has said ahead of an EU General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: Flickr.com/Michał Jasiulewicz/MSZ.Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: Flickr.com/Michał Jasiulewicz/MSZ.

“The whole discussion is pointless -- there is nothing going on in Poland which would require such discussion,” Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said, adding that Poland “will respond with our own story to any issues that are raised.”

The General Affairs Council, which brings together the foreign ministers and ministers responsible for European affairs in 28 European Union member states, will on Tuesday hear the European Commission's assessment of its talks with Poland over what the commission called a “systemic threat” to the rule of law in Poland.

According to Waszczykowski, it was a “good sign” that the European Commission would not be calling for a decision to be taken at the meeting, as representatives of the remaining EU member states would only refer to the commission’s report.


Waszczykowski said Poland would at the meeting present counter-arguments and “demand that Poland’s answers and remarks, which were presented [after] each of the European Commission’s questions and letters, be considered in all of the commission’s documents,” Waszczykowski said.

He added that German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who will pay a visit to Warsaw on Sunday, recently said there was no need to publicly debate the rule of law in Poland.

In January last year, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, announced it was starting a "rule-of-law" probe into whether far-reaching changes made by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party after it swept to power in October 2015 violate EU standards.

Changes to the judiciary at one point triggered a political deadlock over the country’s constitutional court.

Critics accused the governing Law and Justice party of aiming to stack the Constitutional Tribunal, Poland’s top court, with PiS supporters, undermining its ability to challenge new laws.

Law and Justice argued it was unfair that a constitutional court with a majority of judges appointed by the previous parliament should be able to scupper flagship policies for which PiS secured a mandate in democratic elections in late 2015.

'Case closed'

The European Commission has issued Poland with a list of recommendations, and after Warsaw said it had submitted a detailed response, Waszczykowski said: “We consider the case closed”. But the European Commission was not satisfied by Warsaw’s answer.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans has said “we have a number of instruments in our toolbox... I believe there is still room for political dialogue”.

Timmermans added that he would not ask the General Affairs Council to consider triggering article seven, which allows for sanctions against a country which violates democratic principles, but he would only mention that such an option is available.


Source: PAP, IAR

tags: rule of law
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