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Ruling party, risking EU voting rights suspension, appoints own nominees to judicial watchdog, while Holocaust law might cost Warsaw U.S. funding for military projects.7 March 2018
The opposition’s boycott is directed at the legislative change allowing for the move, which was adopted last year, and which PiS justifies as a way of ridding the judiciary of members that used to be part of the communist elite. Critics, such as former Justice Minister Borys Budka, argue that the changes will put an end to the separation of powers in the country, DW writes.
The government’s overhaul of the judiciary as well as the public broadcaster have been at the core of arguments with the European Commission.
The possibility of EU sanctions has been looming large over Warsaw but accelerated last week, when a majority of members of the European Parliament voted in favor of an EC recommendation to invoke Article 7 in response to Warsaw’s undermining of the rule of law, DW writes in another article.
The EC’s decision at the end of December to trigger, for the first time, Article 7, the union’s most powerful weapon against its members that defy its values, did not immediately threaten Poland with sanctions. But Warsaw has been facing the possibility of being stripped of its voting rights – the most serious punishment in the bloc’s arsenal – provided that all member states agree.
So far, Hungary, which has also caught Brussels’ attention due to the authoritarian tendencies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has repeatedly backed Poland, most recently through a vote of support at the end of February.
Warsaw will have difficulty finding allies on the other side of the Atlantic. Various reports point to a recent worsening of its relations with Washington over a recently adopted Holocaust law. Citing Polish media, POLITICO writes that the Central European country could face several repercussions as a result of a law adopted on 1 March that makes it illegal to suggest that the Polish nation or its people were responsible or complicit in Nazi crimes.
U.S. government official Wess Mitchell, who is the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, reportedly condemned the law on freedom-of-expression grounds and gave Warsaw a three-point ultimatum, which included “no high-level bilateral contacts between countries until the crisis gets solved” and the threat of withholding funding for joint U.S.-Polish military projects.
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