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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

MEPs debate disputed Polish legal reforms

12.02.2020 11:55
Critics have accused the Polish government of eroding the rule of law, while lawmakers with the country’s ruling conservatives rejected the charges during a debate in the European Parliament.
Audio
European Parliament building in Strasbourg
European Parliament building in Strasbourg Photo: EPA/PATRICK SEEGER

But Polish state news agency PAP reported that the debate in Strasbourg on Tuesday evening was calmer than previous such discussions.

The debate was prompted by Poland’s introduction of controversial rules to discipline judges.

Critics have claimed that disciplinary measures pushed through by Poland’s ruling party could undermine judicial independence and allow the government to gag dissenters.

But former Polish conservative Prime Minister Beata Szydło argued during the debate in Strasbourg that the European Parliament was denying Poland the right to make sovereign decisions.

"Think about why Poland is being criticised for [bringing in] solutions you are familiar with from your own countries,” Szydło told Euro MPs.

Roberta Metsola, an Euro MP from Malta, said that the European Commission, the EU’s executive, should prevent “repression” in Poland.

Under new rules signed into law by Polish President Duda, judges could face penalties for criticising government changes to the judiciary and challenging the appointment of those of their peers who took up their posts after the conservatives came to power in Poland.

The governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which triumphed in Polish parliamentary elections in late 2015 and won a second term last October, has insisted that sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past.

(pk/gs)

Source: PAP

Click on the audio icon above to listen to a report by Radio Poland's Tomasz Ferenc.