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POLAND: NGOs urge EU ministers to act decisively on rule of law crisis

As the EU Council prepares to discuss the rule of law situation in Poland at its upcoming meeting on 22 February 2022, FIDH and other civil society organisations from Poland and across the EU draw EU ministers’ attention to recent, alarming developments, pointing to a severe and steady decline in the respect for EU values in the country.

These include attempts to undermine judicial independence, refusal to comply with European court’s decisions, attacks on media freedom, and restrictions on civic space. Rule of law deficits are having negative impacts on human rights, particularly on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and on LGBTI people’s rights.

In the letter, the signatory organisations urge EU governments to address these developments at next week’s meeting, to adopt recommendations that Polish authorities will have to implement within a clear time frame and/or to hold a vote to establish that the EU core values of respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights have been seriously breached in Poland.

Poland has been under scrutiny by the Council since December 2017, when the European Commission triggered the procedure laid down in Article 7.1 TEU on account of the “clear risk of a serious breach” of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU in the country. Despite the many actions undertaken by EU institutions since 2017, the Polish government has continued to systematically infringe upon EU standards and ignore warnings and decisions from the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Court of Justice of the European Union. Immediate, effective, and concerted action by the Council is vital to halt attacks against Article 2 principles and reaffirm that rule of law and human rights violations have no place in the EU.