Pittella: Democracy in Poland is at a crossroads, we must act now before it is too late

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A broad majority in the European Parliament today backed a resolution on the rule of law and democracy in Poland. The Parliament urges the Polish government to fully implement the recommendations put forward by the European Commission and the Venice Commission in order to resolve the ongoing constitutional crisis. If they fail to do so, the Parliament will have no choice but to call for the launching of Article 7 procedure against the Polish government.

S&D Group president Gianni Pittella said:

“The EU has done everything it could to keep the dialogue open with the Polish authorities. However, we can never give up our common values of democracy and respect for the rule of law. Europe cannot be treated as a menu à la carte. Europe is a community of values to which each member state is bound. Poland and Polish history represent a vivid example of why democracy, the rule of law and freedom must be constantly defended. However, the current Polish government is disregarding these fundamental principles.

“Mr Kaczyński, Prime Minister Szydło, why are you doing this? You do not have an electoral mandate from Polish citizens to put into question the independence of the Constitutional Court, undermine the judiciary or to attack media freedom. Your actions are turning Poland into a marginalised and isolated country in Europe. People who voted for you did not vote for that.

“You are legitimising the most dangerous and illiberal instincts. The same instincts that bring Europe to catastrophe. We cannot and we will not tolerate this. We have to act now in the interest of the Polish people.

“To all Polish citizens we want to say: you are not alone, we stand beside you, and you belong to this great European family.”

S&D Group vice-president Josef Weidenholzer, co-author of the Parliament resolution, added:

“We are deeply concerned by the ongoing situation in Poland. In particular by the political appropriation of the Constitutional Tribunal  by the ruling forces and attempts to politicise the judiciary, which endangers democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law in Poland. We fully support the endeavours of the Commission to solve the crisis and call on the Polish government to engage directly in a dialogue with the Commission.  Today we denounce this government's actions and their claim to have an electoral mandate to take away the freedoms that you fought so hard for. The EU needs to take action now, before it is too late."

Bogusław Liberadzki, leader of Polish delegation to the S&D Group said:

"The European Union gives us political, social and economic security. We are deeply concerned by the judiciary being taken over by the governing party, as well as by endeavours to restrict women’s rights. We do not accept government’s use of collective responsibility, also towards soldiers and other officers when their pensions are taken away from them. The tension between the EU Commission and the Polish government is rising rapidly. We call for dialogue and for the Polish government to take a step back. It should not be the Polish people to pay a high price for this dispute.”