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Polish presidential aide hits out at plans to link EU funds to rule of law

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 25.01.2018 12:18
A senior aide to the Polish president has hit out at plans to make payouts of EU funds conditional on member states upholding the rule of law.
Krzysztof Szczerski. Photo: PAP/Radek PietruszkaKrzysztof Szczerski. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Krzysztof Szczerski, an aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda, called the plans “absurd.”

Warsaw has clashed repeatedly with Brussels over sweeping changes to courts in Poland, which is a major recipient of European Union funds.

Critics have claimed the changes undermine judicial independence but Poland's ruling conservatives have said the reforms are vital to make courts more efficient and more transparent.

Europe’s Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said on Wednesday that the EU’s executive was working on a way of making payouts of all EU funds conditional on member states having an efficient judicial system and upholding the rule of law.

‘Political pressure’

Szczerski told Poland’s PAP news agency that an "attempt to tie payouts from the EU budget to political assessments and conditions other than objective indicators is inconsistent with the essence of the European Union's cohesion policy."

He added: "This proposal is so absurd that it could either be some sort of misunderstanding or a result of strong political pressure on the European Commission to seek money at all costs, including at the cost of violating the spirit of European law, in order to find means to solve problems which some EU countries have brought on us through political decisions in recent years."

Controversial changes to courts

The European Commission in December took the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over controversial changes to the judicial system by the country’s ruling conservatives.

The move means that the EU’s executive wants the bloc’s member states to declare that the rule of law in Poland is under threat.

The move could pave the way for sanctions being imposed on Poland, for example suspending its voting rights in the European Union. But penalties on Warsaw would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states, while Hungary has said it would not support sanctions.

Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has said sweeping 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.


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