6th Jul 2022

Poland chooses isolation over EU anti-death penalty day

Poland is continuing to veto the creation of a European day against the death penalty, further escalating its row with the rest of the EU club and earning itself an accusation of "moral decay".

On Tuesday (18 September), EU justice ministers failed to give the anti-death penalty day the formal go-ahead, saying Warsaw alone had objected to the idea.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Unfortunately, it was not possible to find a consensus among all the 27 member states", Portuguese justice minister Alberto Costa, speaking on behalf of his country's EU presidency, told reporters.

He added, however, this "does not mean that Europe is not committed to the abolition of the death penalty in the world and this position shall not change".

The EU had planned to mark a European Day against the Death Penalty each year on 10 October – in efforts to add to the weight of the World Day against the Death Penalty celebrated since 2003 as well as to gain a new symbolic tool when talking to pro-death penalty countries such as the US, China or African states.

But Warsaw has insisted that the EU "should approach the subject in a broader way and debate the protection of life" – something that would also include issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

It argues it is not necessary to establish a special day against capital punishment because it is outlawed throughout the 27-nation union. Instead it suggests celebrating a "right to life" day.

The Polish justice minister is said to have read out loud the number of abortions in Denmark, Sweden and Finland during the meeting.

Danish justice minister Lene Espersen said after the meeting that the rest of the EU club was "annoyed" by the situation.

"Politically, we sometimes do make some horse trading to get things sorted out, but I quite frankly think it is an expression of moral decay concerning the rejection of death penalty, which is something we have done for years", Ms Espersen said, according to the Danish press agency Ritzau.

The Portuguese EU presidency indicated, however, that a high-level international conference held in Lisbon on 9 October could be an alternative way of marking Europe's anti-death penalty stance.

"We are going to work in order to issue a strong message that will dignify the continent of Europe and also a country that 140 years ago abolished and never again used the death penalty", Mr Costa said, referring to his own country, according to AFP.

It is not the first time that Poland has decided to go it alone on an issue – it was an equally hardline negotiator during EU treaty negotiations in June.

Diplomats say they do not expect any sudden shift in Poland's stance, as the country is heading for early parliamentary elections in October, with the Law and Justice Party of current Polish prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski campaigning on a conservative platform.

MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship

Two MEPs have withdrawn their nominations from the MEPs Awards over the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis's participation as a sponsor — currently involved in an alleged bribery scandal in Greece.

EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Interpreters at the European Parliament are fed up with remote interpretation, citing auditory health issues given the poor quality of the online sessions.

EU opens door to Ukraine in 'geopolitical' summit

EU leaders will also discuss eurozone issues with European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, as more and more leaders are worried about voters' distress at soaring inflation.


'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements

Some modest headway in recognising the unrelenting tide of discrimination and violence facing women worldwide was made at last week's largely self-congratulatory and mostly irrelevant G7 talk-fest. But no one mentioned abortion, just days after the Roe vs Wade decision.


The euro — who's next?

Bulgaria's target date for joining the eurozone, 1 January 2024, seems elusive. The collapse of Kiril Petkov's government, likely fresh elections, with populists trying to score cheap points against the 'diktat of the eurocrats', might well delay accession.

News in Brief

  1. Alleged Copenhagen shooter tried calling helpline
  2. Socialist leader urges Czech PM to ratify Istanbul convention
  3. Scottish law chief casts doubt on referendum
  4. British PM faces mounting rebellion
  5. Russian military base near Finnish border emptied
  6. Euro slides to lowest level in two decades
  7. State intervention ends Norwegian oil and gas strike
  8. France repatriates 35 children from Syrian camp

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  2. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  3. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia
  4. 'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements
  5. Greece defends disputed media and migration track record
  6. MEPs adopt new digital 'rule book', amid surveillance doubts
  7. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules
  8. Turkey sends mixed signals on Sweden's entry into Nato

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us