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Poland: "overwhelming evidence" of rule of law breaches, say MEPs

Poland: "overwhelming evidence" of rule of law breaches, say MEPs

Andrzej Duda, President of Poland - Photo EU Council

(BRUSSELS) - After Poland's right-wing presidency managed to retain power last weekend, an EU Parliament committee voiced concern Thursday over Polish backsliding on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

"In view of recurring allegations by PiS and the Polish authorities that they are facing double standards, this report concludes that there is no comparable case in Europe - other than Hungary, which is also subject to an ongoing Article 7 procedure," said the rapporteur Mr López Aguilar MEP: "Over a period of just five years, the ruling majority has produced a cascade of acts using expedited parliamentary procedures, with no concessions to parliamentary opposition nor to any minority, severely affecting rule of law values."

"Furthermore, no other government is facing four infringement procedures for ignoring CJEU rulings. Abiding by EU law is what being a Member State is all about," he added.

The text of the draft interim report focuses on the continuing deterioration of the situation in Poland as regards the functioning of the legislative and electoral system, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of judges, and the protection of fundamental rights.

It "calls on the Council and the Commission to refrain from narrowly interpreting the principle of the rule of law, and to use the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU to its full potential [...] for all the principles enshrined in Article 2 TEU, including democracy and fundamental rights".

Noting that the last hearing in the Council "was held as long ago as December 2018", it urges the Council "to finally act [...] by finding that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU, in the light of overwhelming evidence thereof".

According to Article 7 of the Treaty of the EU, the Council may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of EU values. Before doing so, ministers shall hear the views of the national authorities. The Polish authorities have presented their position in front of the Council on three occasions, between June and December 2018.

At a later stage, the European Council may determine, by unanimity and with the Parliament's consent, that there is a serious and persistent breach of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. This could eventually lead to sanctions, including suspension of voting rights in the Council.

Further information, European Parliament

Procedure file

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