Poland: European Parliament condemns continuing deterioration of rule of law

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On Thursday 16 July, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee adopted by a solid majority a draft interim report on the continuing deterioration of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Poland. The report - by which the EU Parliament follows-up on previous actions on Poland - firmly condemns the continuous backsliding in this member state and urges the Council "to finally act [...] by finding that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU".

Pointing to the "overwhelming evidence" of breach by Poland of the EU’s basic principles of respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the LIBE Committee also called on the Council and the Commission to refrain from narrowly interpreting those principles, and use the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU to scrutinise not only rule of law, but also democracy and fundamental rights violations.

Indeed, the Commission and Council’s scrutiny has so far been limited to aspects related exclusively to the rule of law, namely the to the functioning and independence of the Polish judiciary, and ignored other serious Article 2 violations, including violations of freedom of expression and media freedom, freedom of assembly and association, discrimination and violence against vulnerable groups, such as LGBTI+ people, and violations of women’s rights. Last but not least, the right to free and fair elections has also been compromised in the context of the recent presidential elections.

FIDH and its member organisations in Poland welcome the findings of the report that largely reflects the concerns and recommendations they have consistently raised at the EU level with regard to Poland. Over the past years, FIDH has accompanied Polish civil society in defending their rights by speaking out against these persistent attempts to undermine the rule of law and human rights and advocating before key EU institutions to act upon these breaches by Poland’s government. Most recently, in February 2020, FIDH and a number of civil society organisations urged the Council to take forward the Article 7 procedure in relation to Poland, a procedure which can lead to the suspension of Poland’s voting rights in the Council.

The EP’s interim report is scheduled to be debated and voted on in plenary in September 2020.

For more background information, visit our section on Poland.

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