Sunday

18th Nov 2018

Polish PM: EU process won't lead to sanctions

  • Szydlo: 'Immigrants - that’s what we should be talking about' (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo has said EU monitoring won’t lead to sanctions, while keeping up Warsaw’s attack on Dutch commissioner Frans Timmermans.

“There’s no risk of sanctions against Poland. The European Commission cannot impose punishments,” she told Polish TV on Thursday (14 January) morning.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“There’s no extraordinary procedure, just normal proceedings,” she claimed.

“The Polish case was just one of 12 [at Wednesday’s EU meeting]. Other issues included immigrants - that’s what we should be talking about.”

Speaking after the European Commission, on Wednesday, launched a rule-of-law supervisory process on Poland, she said she'd had a “quiet night”.

The move marks the first-ever time the EU has used the new instrument.

The commission cannot impose sanctions. But it can recommend that member states do it, via the EU Council, including suspension of Poland's voting rights.

Szydlo said the EU would get all the information it wants on government changes to the constitutional tribunal and state media, which, critics say, harm judicial oversight and free speech.

But she continued to bash Timmermans, who announced the EU decision.

Speaking shortly after a Polish minister accused him of left-wing bias, Szydlo queried his credentials on grounds that The Netherlands, his home country, has no constitutional court.

She also said: “The commission vice-president [Timmermans] was recently awarded a prize by [Poland’s previous] president [Bronislaw] Komorowski, maybe that’s why he doesn’t sympathise with us [the new government]."

The Polish foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday that Timmermans is “incoherent” because he called for “dialogue” at the same time as triggering the EU process.

"This was a very incoherent statement by Timmermans. It creates more confusion than clarity. We will wait to see a decision in writing or else, should there be none, we will try to clarify things in some other way. The dialogue will take months," Waszczykowski said.

Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, a former Polish PM from Szydlo’s Law and Justice (PiS) party, said the party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, won’t change because of EU finger-wagging.

“I’m convinced that Jaroslaw Kaczynski won’t care about it. It’s not something that will influence him,” Marcinkiewicz told Polish TV.

More to come

He predicted that upcoming reforms of the police and the prosecutor’s office will also alarm Brussels.

“Kaczynski wants a revolution in Poland. He wants to reform all the Polish institutions. He wants to change all the people in these institutions whose work is important for Polish governance and he knows that, on several points, he’ll violate the constitution.”

The Polish president, Andrzej Duda, a PiS loyalist, also on Wednesday told a meeting of Poland's overseas ambassadors that the EU needs Poland.

“There’s no realistic European politics, especially in the eastern dimension, which can be realised while bypassing our country,” he said.

“Poland in 2016 will still be an active and responsible member of the EU, of an EU which respects treaty freedoms, which treats all its countries in the same way and doesn’t create new barriers between them."

Polish sources told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily that, despite Szydlo's remarks, the PM was surprised by the EU decision.

They said she felt, after speaking by phone with EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday, that he’d take a lighter touch.

They also said she expected the Hungarian EU commissioner, Tibor Navracsics, to object to the Poland decision.

Trust, harmed

For her part, Jadwiga Staniszkis, a Polish politics scholar, said on TV on Wednesday that PiS doesn’t get the EU.

“I don’t think PiS wanted a conflict with Europe. It didn’t understand how its behaviour in the area of rule of law or on concentration of power would be seen as something from another civilisational sphere,” she said.

“PiS doesn’t understand the West and the West doesn’t understand central Europe,” she added.

“This conflict … harms the very fragile trust which we had in the West."

EU commission puts Poland on the hook

The EU commission has triggered rule-of-law monitoring of Poland, in an unprecedented step, prompted by constitutional and media reforms. The move follows a nasty exchange of letters.

Opinion

Poles must defend hard-won democracy

The Law and Justice party is chipping away at Poland's hard-won democracy. Now polls are showing that many people are unhappy with the changes, and a new alliance around the Committee for the Defence of Democracy has sprung up.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us