We can’t hold our tongue over rule of law concerns in Poland: Merkel
PR dla Zagranicy
The principles of the rule of law cannot be abandoned for the sake of EU unity, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday in Berlin, amid a standoff between Warsaw and Brussels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: EPA/CLEMENS BILAN
"The unity of the EU at the cost of abandoning the rule of law -- that would no longer be the European Union," Merkel told reporters.
She added she would hold "exhaustive" talks on the rule of law in Poland with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Berlin on Wednesday .
“I treat this very seriously,” Merkel said.
“Although I would very much like to have very good relations with Poland, our neighbour... we cannot simply hold our tongue and say nothing in order to keep the peace. This is about the foundations of cooperation in the EU.”
European Commission probe
In January last year, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, announced it was starting a "rule-of-law" probe into whether laws pushed through by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party violate EU standards. PiS has fiercely rejected such accusations.
The probe by the European Commission could in theory lead to Brussels imposing penalties on Warsaw, but any such move would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states. Hungary has said it would not support sanctions.
Sweeping judicial changes underway in Poland are in line with EU standards, Warsaw insisted on Monday, after Brussels gave it a month to address "grave concerns".
Law and Justice has said wide-ranging changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past, accusing judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.
But opponents have accused Law and Justice of aiming to stack courts with its own candidates and to dismantle the rule of law. (pk)