Poland set to back down in row with Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Poland's deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski[Photo/Agencies]
Poland's deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has indicated the country's government is likely to back down in its long-running argument with the European Union over attempts to introduce measures that critics have said could undermine the independence of the country's judiciary system.
Already this year, the EU's highest court has made two rulings against the proposals that would set up a new chamber of the country's Supreme Court, in an effort to discipline judges and prosecutors.
Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party has accused the EU of reaching beyond the scope of its powers, saying measures were needed to get rid of the legacy of the country's communist past, and to fight corruption.
As recently as Friday, the country's justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro gave an interview to daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, accusing the EU of "illegal blackmail".
"The belief that the EU is a good uncle and gives us money, and that we should accept all its demands at all costs, is propaganda and false," he said, accusing the EU of having a "colonial mentality", and saying that if the country made concessions over this issue, in the future it would be forced into giving ground on issues such as gay rights, which are a contentious issue in Poland.
The European Commission had given Poland a deadline of Aug 16 to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Justice against Poland's judicial overhaul plans, with the threat of heavy fines if the country did not comply, and speaking to state news agency PAP on Saturday, Kaczynski said he was ready to take steps to defuse tensions with Brussels.
"We will dissolve the Disciplinary Chamber as it currently operates and in this way the subject of the dispute will disappear," he said.
Poland has been a member of the EU since 2004, and there is a huge Polish diaspora, making the most of the employment opportunities in other countries created by EU freedom of movement rules.
According to figures released by Britain's Office for National Statistics in 2019, Polish was the most common non-British nationality recorded in the United Kingdom, and had been since 2007.
In addition to offering the ability to work abroad, the EU has also given Poland significant funding, and recent polls suggest strong support for the country remaining a member state, but for five years, there have been disagreements between Brussels and Poland's conservative-nationalist coalition government, building up to the recent stand-off.
Justice Minister Ziobro is the leader of the United Poland party, one of smaller coalition partners in the government, and he said he did not back Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's approach of seeking compromise with the EU as a way forward, and that its membership should not be "at any price".
"We consider that the aggression of the EU should be met with a tough response," he said.
"(We should) be in, but not at any price."
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