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Rule of law concerns: case closed, says Polish FM

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 21.02.2017 11:42
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Tuesday that he considers the issue of the state of the rule of law in Poland a “closed” case.
Witold WaszczykowskiWitold WaszczykowskiPhoto: W.Kusiński/Polish Radio

He was speaking a day after Warsaw said it had submitted a detailed response to European Commission recommendations issued amid concern in Brussels over sweeping legal changes introduced by Poland’s ruling conservatives.

Waszczykowski on Tuesday told Polish Radio: "We explained fully what has happened in Poland, how reform was carried out in terms of the Constitutional Tribunal and other issues that were raised in the December recommendations by the Commission and we consider the case closed.”

He added that many European politicians think the same.

"I have been travelling around Europe for many months, to various capitals, where I have been consulting on European affairs and for a long time no one has asked me about Polish issues. So this is a situation that should be closed," said Waszczykowski.

The European Commission on 21 December said that the appointment of a new head at Poland’s top court was “fundamentally flawed” and called on Warsaw to reverse changes to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal, which had been locked in a struggle with the government.

The Commission gave Warsaw two months to reply to a new set of recommendations.

But the Polish foreign ministry said on Monday that the appointment of a new head at Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal late last year and new rules had created "the right conditions for the normal functioning" of the court.

Rule-of-law probe

In January last year, the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, announced it was starting a "rule-of-law" probe into whether laws pushed through by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party violate EU standards. PiS has fiercely rejected such accusations.

The probe by the European Commission could in theory lead to Brussels imposing penalties on Warsaw, but any such move would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states. Hungary has said it would not support sanctions.

Critics have accused the governing Law and Justice party of aiming to stack the Constitutional Tribunal with PiS supporters, undermining its ability to challenge new laws.

Law and Justice argued it was unfair that a constitutional court with a majority of judges appointed under the previous parliament should be able to scupper flagship policies for which PiS secured a mandate in democratic elections in late 2015.

(pk)

Source: PAP

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