EU Commision takes action against Poland

Replacement of top intelligence officials, a reform of the public media and the disempowerment of the Constitutional Court - the European Commission is reacting to the Polish government's reforms of state structures and launching a probe into whether they conform to the rule of law. Is pressure from Brussels the right response?

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Brussels no enemy of Warsaw

No objections can be made to the steps being taken by Brussels, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza is convinced:

“By joining the EU we undertook not only to observe certain economic rules but also to respect democratic principles and civil rights. … The EU is therefore entitled to protest if these values are not respected. Its fears may be exaggerated - just like the fears of those who claim to be defending democracy in Poland, but it is now the government's duty to prove that those fears are unfounded. … The EU is not an institution that is hostile to the Poles, but a community of which we form part and for which we all bear joint responsibility.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Europe must defend its basic principles

The EU must remain firm regarding democracy and the rule of law, the liberal daily La Libre Belgique affirms in view of the controversy over current developments in Poland:

“For a long time Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were under the Soviet yoke. They regarded the EU as a foreign body, and at times even as a threat to their 'identity'. The fact that such feelings persist in these countries twelve years after joining the EU represents a failure on the part of the European project. Nevertheless it would be even worse if the Union now allowed them to violate the democratic criteria the acceptance of which was a prerequisite to accession. As awkward as it may be from a political point of view, the Commission has no choice but to bring Warsaw firmly back into line. And it must receive the backing of the other member states in making clear to Poland that democracy and the rule of law are not principles that one can bend at will to serve the interests of those in power in the name of national sovereignty or 'traditions'.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

EU should not interfere in Poland

The new Polish government's massive influence on public radio and television must be condemned, but not by those outside the country, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny warns ahead of the EU Commission's meeting on the subject today:

“This unpleasant situation must be resolved in Poland. On the one hand because the sanctions that have been alluded to here and there would never come into effect, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for one has already announced he would use his veto. And on the other hand because numerous politicians have realised that sanctions are simply counterproductive. External pressure on the new PiS government would only reaffirm its conviction that the aim is to drive it into a corner, and that it must defend itself tooth and nail. What's more, the EU states saw how powerless sanctions are long ago, when Jörg Haider's far-right party became part of the Austrian government.”