European Parliament to debate the rule of law in Poland

Poland's Prime Minister is promised 'a lively' discussion. 

European Parliament prepares to debate the state of the rule of law and restrictions to press freedom in Poland in Strasbourg tomorrow (Tuesday).

Alyn Smith, SNP Member of the European Parliament for Scotland, who will attend the debate, says the European Commission has a right and responsibility to monitor the laws and democratic processes in all member states, but we must not rush to any conclusions. flag-792067_1920.jpg

The debate, held in the presence of the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, will focus on the recent clampdown on its Constitutional Tribunal and the management of state media.

Ahead of the debate Alyn said:

“It’s an established fact that the new Warsaw government has rushed through controversial legal and constitutional changes which undermine the independence of the judiciary and the media. The legislation gives Poland's conservative government the power to directly appoint the heads of public broadcasters, despite EU concern and condemnation from rights watchdogs.The process is well underway and many respected journalists have been dismissed with an immediate effect. 

“There is absolutely no doubt that the current Polish Government was democratically elected and has a mandate to introduce its programme. However, democracy is not only about elections but also about checks and balances through independent institutions such as the judiciary and the media, whose independence from the government must be protected as part of a healthy democracy. In this context, every state can benefit from a degree of external scrutiny.

“It’s also not a coincidence that tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the country to protest against the new laws. Many Poles in Scotland also fear Poland’s isolation in the EU, following the Commission’s decision to monitor Poland to determine whether or not the new government may constitute a systematic threat to the Rule of Law.

“I rarely comment on the internal affairs of another member state, however, in this instance, as members of the same Union, sharing the same values we should be asking Polish Government questions to ensure their reforms do not violate the Union’s democratic principles.