Get rid of the Polish opt-out to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights!
During yesterday's parliamentary debate on the constitutional situation in Poland with Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, GUE/NGL MEPs called for an end to double standards.
Gabi Zimmer, Chair of the GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament, said: “Nobody wants to bash Poland. It's not about the democratic legitimacy of the Polish government, but about its actions with regard to the law. That is why I welcome the fact that the EU Commission has launched a preliminary investigation. The values on which the Union is founded are respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and respect for human rights. That requires independent courts and independent media in all member states, including Poland.”
Regarding the EU Commission Zimmer warned: “I expect the Commission to apply this new instrument, irrespective the country being investigated and its political make-up.”
Zimmer also referred to the social circumstances that contributed to the election result in Poland: “The problems in Poland have not fallen from the sky. The neoliberal and radical market structural reforms that were a pre-requisite for EU membership have not brought development and prosperity to all. The disappointment and frustrations of the socially excluded have been ignored.”
In response to Prime Minister Szydło's announcement that she wanted to make Poland a “champion” in the EU, Zimmer said: “Then I must ask two things: First, you will champion the issue of migration and take more people than the announced 400. Second, you will send a strong signal by revoking the previous government's opt-out to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
MEP Zimmer concluded: “Ms Prime Minister: Do not applaud the wrong people who want to destroy the EU and pull you back to a nationalist Poland. Poland is an important bridge between East and West Europe. Yes, we need a fundamental reform of the EU but with more democracy, more social rights and fundamental freedoms as an alternative to national conflict.”
Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli told Ms Szydło : “The neo-nationalism of your government is a matter of grave concern. For many Poles, the restriction of the powers of the Constitutional Court and the media is a source of massive concern which flies in the face of the European project. At the same time Poland voted for a government that is very critical of the EU and that is because the policies of austerity in the EU have exacerbated inequalities and created a huge amount of social resentment which focused hope on the right.
“Social justice is a universal right in Europe and we must not use double standards: one for Italy during the time of Berlusconi, another for Hungary, another for Poland. Governments must be treated in the same way and higher prices cannot be exacted from one country over another, especially when that country is not supported by such a powerful group as the EPP.”
For French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric: “If I understand correctly the explanation given to us is that democracy is being reduced in order to strengthen it. The Charter of Fundamental Rights is being breached in order to improve democracy.”
He continued: “The European Union offered 3 billion euros to Turkey and the Erdogan government which has imprisoned journalists and threatened others. We are now watering down the Europe of press freedom and civil liberties. We need to assure pluralism of the press in EU countries and it's not too late for that. We could also create an observatory on the instruments of justice in each member state. I think that would be a worthy cause.”
GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75