EU Parliament to Back Tough Action on Poland

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The European Parliament is likely to adopt a resolution on Thursday supporting the European Union’s unprecedented punitive action against Poland for not observing the rule of law, lawmakers said.

EU Parliament to Back Tough Action on Poland

In a long-running clash, the executive European Commission has accused Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) of undermining the rule of law with reforms to the judiciary and state media since taking power in late 2015.

After two years of dialogue with Poland brought no results, the Commission started last December a procedure against it - which could lead to suspending Warsaw’s voting rights in the EU - unless it concedes ground by March 20.

In a debate on Wednesday preceding the vote, the three biggest European Parliament caucuses -- the center-right, center-left and liberals -- all spoke in favor of supporting the Commission’s action to restore rule of law in Poland, Reuters reported.

While the parliament’s resolution is not binding, it adds to pressure from Western European governments who also told Poland on Tuesday that time was running out for it to address the Commission’s concerns over democratic freedoms.

They have held off from action until the March 20 deadline.

Yet stripping Poland of its voting rights remains unlikely because it would require unanimity among all EU governments, and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, himself under a cloud for not observing the rule of law, has promised to block any such action against his Polish ally.

But the dispute could badly hurt Poland if other member states move to cut vital funding in looming budget talks. Poland is currently the biggest beneficiary of the EU budget.

After repeatedly declining to backtrack on its judicial reforms, Warsaw has now sat down to negotiations as parallel talks on the bloc’s next joint budget starting in 2021 get under way and disbursements look likely to be linked to observing the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

The EU believes that if courts in Poland are not independent, there can be no guarantees that EU money from the budget will be spent as agreed and undermine the unity of the EU’s single market.

Poland will soon publish an explanation of some 13 laws the ruling PiS party has passed on the court system to demonstrate to other EU states it only acted to rid Poland of the vestiges of communist rule.

The Commission, Poland’s opposition parties and various international legal bodies and non-governmental organizations believe the PiS changes not only put courts under the control of the justice minister -- a politician from the ruling party -- but also violate Poland’s constitution.

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