Europe’s liberals are deeply disturbed to witness how media freedom, a core pillar of democracy, continues to be threatened in Poland. In a European Parliament plenary debate last week, the Renew Europe Group strongly condemned the PiS Government's latest attempt to silence critical voices through the so-called Lex-TVN Bill, which can only be described as a frontal attack on media pluralism.
The deterioration of rule of law and independence of the judiciary was also in the spotlight during the debate, as well as the topic of the European Parliament's latest resolution on Poland adopted on 17 September. The Polish Prime Minister's questioning of the primacy of EU law is unacceptable, as the precedence of EU law over national law is not optional; every EU Member State has signed up to this principle. The independence of European judges is also non-negotiable, and all Member States must respect rulings of the European Court of Justice.
Michal Šimečka MEP (Progresívne Slovensko, SK) Renew Europe Shadow Rapporteur on the European Parliament resolution on Poland, said:
"By all standards, democracy and the rule of law are in serious retreat in Poland. It is therefore high time to drop the pretense of a dialogue taking place and turn to concrete action. Most importantly, access to EU funding must be conditional on compliance with common rules and values. The EU cannot sponsor authoritarianism."
Renew Europe is pleased that the European Commission is finally awakening to repeated calls for action, by introducing daily penalties against Poland for ignoring court rulings as well as withholding the Polish Recovery and Resilience Plan. This, however, can only be a first step. The European Commission must trigger the rule of law conditionality mechanism immediately and refrain from approving the Polish Recovery and Resilience Plan until every single judgement of the European Court of Justice is implemented.
Photo credit: Michel Christen, European Parliament 2021.