Poland: Controversial media law in effect
The Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the controversial media law put forward by the national-conservative PiS government on Thursday. Next week the European Commission will examine what steps it can take to counter what it views as a threat to the rule of law in Poland. The criticism from Brussels is a conspiracy against the PiS government by EU elites, some commentators believe. Others hope a broad alliance can bring Warsaw to its senses.
EU branding Poland as authoritarian
Alarmed by the national-conservative PiS government's growing influence on the media and the judiciary, the EU Commission plans to examine next week whether the rule of law is being undermined in the country. A perfidious attack on Poland's right of self-determination, the Romanian daily Evenimentul Zilei believes: "The PiS is Eurosceptic but pro-American. ... For that reason Brussels wants to compromise it by branding it as an 'authoritarian party'. The EU leaders are worried that the new government in Warsaw will widen the East-West rift in the EU. They want the [ousted governing party] Civic Platform (PO) to maintain a partial hold on power. The influence of the Civic Platform in the EU institutions and the European press is very large. After all, its former leader Donald Tusk is president of the European Council. ... As a consequence, the European press is now viciously crying out that Poland is moving towards dictatorship."
More headwind needed from the West
Poland's new government can only be stopped if faced with criticism from a broad Western alliance, columnist Timothy Garton Ash writes in the centre-left daily The Guardian: "If we leave it to Brussels and the Germans, it is all too easy for Kaczyńskiites to claim that Brussels is giving orders to Poland just as Moscow used to, and to play on still latent anti-German feeling. So we need traditional friends of Poland to speak up as well: its historic ally France, for instance (Poland is the only country I know to make positive reference to Napoleon in its national anthem); ... Not least, we should hear from the US, especially as Poland prepares to host an important Nato summit this summer and wants Nato forces permanently based in the country."
Brussels cannot discipline Warsaw
By supporting the controversial media law President Duda is trampling on European media freedom and the EU can do nothing about it, laments the liberal daily Jutarnji list: "If Poland were still a candidate for EU membership its accession negotiations would probably have been put on ice for disregarding the basic European values. But against a full member the European Union has barely any means of sanction, in fact it has none. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's statement yesterday also made that clear. Rather than exercising criticism he meekly pointed out that the issue should not be overdramatized. That leaves Poland free to quickly introduce the mechanisms it believes will restore the country to its original Catholic values, which were under threat from the centre-left way of thinking."