Press freedom group urges tough EU stance on Poland
PR dla Zagranicy
An international press freedom organisation has called for tough action by the European Commission if Poland fails to scrap a controversial new media law.
Photo: Flickr.com/Jon S
Reporters Without Borders said that the new law, passed by the Polish parliament at the end of last year, “gives the government full control over public broadcasters, thereby violating fundamental European Union values”.
After the new bill on public media was passed, the European Commission announced it is to hold a debate on “the rule of law” in Poland on 13 January.
Alexandra Geneste of Reporters Without Borders said, “Poland is embarking on the anti-democratic road already taken by Viktor Orban’s Hungary. The European Union cannot allow itself to have two member-states that violate its Charter of Fundamental Rights so flagrantly.”
The European Broadcasting Union has called on Polish President Andrzej Duda to refrain from signing the public media law.
EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans has sent two letters to the Polish government asking for clarification on the bill.
The new public media legislation was pushed through parliament by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party which came to power in Poland’s 25 October general election.
Ryszard Terlecki, head of the Law and Justice parliamentary club, has accused public broadcasters of “highly unprofessional” reporting, of being partisan and of repeatedly criticising sweeping changes introduced by PiS.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal warned of the dangers of Brussels imposing tough penalties on Poland.
In an editorial, the paper said, “European Union leaders have rightly denounced PiS’s new laws.” It added that Brussels is threatening to take things further, possibly even by suspending Poland’s EU voting rights.
“Such strong-arm measures could embolden the EU-skeptic PiS and its supporters when it’s already under attack from its many domestic critics,” The Wall Street Journal said.
“Poland’s hard-won freedoms may be under threat from [its] new leaders, but the best way to fight back is to let Poles take the lead,” the paper added. (pk/rg)