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Heated European Parliament debate on rule of law in Poland

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 06.11.2017 17:53
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans warned on Monday that sweeping changes planned to Poland’s judicial system pose a threat to the rule of law.

But MEPs from Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) said in a European Parliament debate that the party was carrying out its electoral promises after a landslide win in 2015 parliamentary elections.

Poland is embroiled in a row with the EU over changes to the country’s judicial system and concerns about the rule of law.

“The Commission is of the opinion that these laws do create a threat to the rule of law in Poland... The commission is not alone in its opinion on that,” Timmermans told a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on Monday.

But Jadwiga Wiśniewska, a MEP from the Law and Justice party, told the committee: “The total, lying, vile opposition [in Poland] is building a false picture of Poland in your eyes.”

She added: “The current government has a majority in the Polish parliament... we are currently carrying out our electoral promises. In Poland, it’s Poles who decide about Poland.

“That’s what democracy is about: the majority has the right to carry out the programme with which it went to the elections.”

Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, a PiS MEP, said: “The rule of law is doing very well in Poland. Democracy is flourishing.”

Timmermans warned in July that the EU’s executive arm was close to triggering the bloc's Article 7 against Poland, which could ultimately result in sanctions, if a contentious bill aiming to overhaul the country's judicial system was passed.

Such penalties on Warsaw would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states but Hungary has said it would not support sanctions.

Poland’s president and ruling party leader have recently held a series of meetings to discuss planned changes to the country’s justice system.

President Andrzej Duda in late July vetoed two of three controversial government-backed bills that would have given politicians sweeping powers in appointing and dismissing court judges.

Duda then submitted his own proposals for reorganising the country's Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary, which reviews and assesses candidates for judges.


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