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Poland must be made accountable for violations of EU values


Poland must be made accountable for violations of EU values

A demontration by the Komitet Obrony Demokracji (KOD) - the Committee for the Defence of Democracy - in Warsaw in January 2016 in support of EU values. The KOD was awarded the the European Citizens' Prize 2016 by the European Parliament.

Photo courtesy of Grzegorz Żukowski on Flickr (

The fragrant disregard of the rule of law by the Polish government is to be voted on in a resolution by MEPs in Brussels today, as pressure mounts on the EU Council to punish Warsaw’s persistent violations of fundamental values over the past two-and-a-half years. MEPs must give consent before the Council can take further action.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli stressed the need for a strong message on the issue from Parliament:

“Some will argue that resorting to Article 7.1 of the EU Treaty is pointless; it’s merely paying lip service because at the end, there will be no unanimity in the Council to put forward its implementation.”

“For my part, I think the opposite is true. Even if the Parliament runs the risk of exposing its own powerlessness, it still has a duty to raise its voice when serious violations of Article 2 have been perpetrated by a member state.”

“It was Václav Havel who once spoke of the power of the powerless. And it is this very power that we want to exercise as a warning, not only to the Polish government but all others who could dismantle the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the defence of human rights,” she added.  

In her speech, Spinelli also referenced the recent controversy over a new Holocaust law that criminalises any suggestions that Poland was complicit in Nazi crimes committed during World War II:

“In this same regard concerning Poland’s recent law on national historical interpretations, a verbal statement is also useful in conveying our opposition to the dangerous idea that there can only be one admissible version of history - one that is dictated by the state,” she concluded.

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