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The EU drops criminal proceedings against Poland

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Promises and measures from Poland’s new Prime Minister Donald Tusk have caused the EU to take its finger off the “nuclear button” and put aside the rule of law process against the country. Photo: Jefrem Lukatskyj / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 06.05.2024 14:13:55

Policy: – Today marks a new chapter for Poland. After more than six years, we believe that the procedures under Article 7 can be ended, says European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a statement on Monday, according to Reuters.

In December 2017, the European Commission started a so-called Article 7 process against Poland for the first time in the Union’s history.

It happened after the country’s right-wing populist ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) got through a controversial legal reform that would give politicians greater control over the judiciary.

Article 7 is often called the EU’s “nuclear button”, and activation of the article is the start of a criminal procedure which, in the extreme, can lead to a member state losing the right to vote. Until now this has never happened.

The EU also withheld billions of euros in aid to Poland.

But the icy relationship turned to frosty weather after EU-friendly Donald Tusk and his liberal Citizen Platform won the election in Poland last year.

The Commission has also decided to pay out a total of 6.3 billion euros to Poland, which has been frozen. This already happened on 15 April.

The decision from the European Commission must now be formally sent to the EU member states.

The EU still has an Article 7 process going against Hungary. It was launched by the EU Parliament in 2018 due to concerns about the systematic undermining of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Hungary.

Viktor Orban’s government has dismissed the criticism as a “politically motivated witch hunt orchestrated by left-wing immigration liberals”.

The commission accused Poland of ignoring EU law and undermining the independence of the country’s judiciary. The case led to a long and irreconcilable conflict between the EU and Poland.

– We see a clear will in Poland to deal with this, for the first time in several years, says the commission’s spokesperson Christian Wigand at a press briefing in Brussels.

(© NTB)

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