Speaking ahead of the plenary debate on Poland, the S&Ds voiced today their increasing concerns over the deteriorating situation on the rule of law and media freedom in the country. If blatant violations of EU laws and values continue, sanctions must follow.
The Law and Justice (PiS) government is now trying to adopt a bill known as “LEX TVN” to silence the biggest independent and critical broadcaster, TVN. In addition, the Polish authorities have deliberately violated several judgements and orders of the European Court of Justice (EUCJ) and are seeking to strike down the supremacy of EU law through an illegitimate, PiS-controlled Constitutional Tribunal.
On Thursday, the European Parliament is set to adopt a resolution, with a very strong S&D stamp on it, reminding the Polish government that the primacy of EU law is a cornerstone of EU law. The text calls on the Polish authorities to immediately comply with all EUCJ rulings related to the independence of judiciary. Until this happens, the text states that the Commission and the Council should not approve the Polish Recovery Plan. The S&Ds also urge the Commission to make use of the new rule of law conditionality mechanism without further delay.
Juan Fernando López Aguilar MEP, S&D chair of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee and rapporteur for the resolution, said:
“Poland is really a unique case. The PiS government is escalating the fight against democracy on so many fronts. Against journalists and the media, against judges, against women and minorities. Now, they have even refused to implement the rulings of the European Court of Justice linked to the independence of judiciary! And they continue harassing and prosecuting judges who try to apply these judgements and the EU laws. This has never happened before in our Union!
“That is why the EU reaction must be much bolder. We take note that the European Commission has recently started to apply more severe initiatives, including imposing fines. But it is not enough. The Recovery funds must be put on hold until the Polish authorities show compliance with the rulings of the EUCJ. The new rule of law conditionality regulation must be finally triggered and the Council’s Article 7 procedures taken to the next level, with concrete recommendations.”
Katarina Barley, S&D MEP and member of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, added:
“Today is International Democracy Day, which is a reminder that democracy cannot be taken for granted. The people of Poland know this and regularly take to the streets to stand up for it – be it to demonstrate against the planned broadcasting law that would further restrict media pluralism in Poland, or against the government’s attacks on the independence of the judiciary and the primacy of EU law.
“With our resolution we are sending a signal of solidarity to the people in Poland who stand up for European values. But we are also formulating clear demands for the Commission. As guardian of the Treaties, it must apply the tools it has at its disposal more consistently. If a government moves away from the principles of democracy, there must be consequences. European funds have to go hand in hand with European values. It cannot be stressed enough: the Polish people are largely pro-European, it is the PiS government that has been opposing fundamental European values for years. Instead of further dialogue, decisive action on the part of the Commission is needed.”