Polish government policies have caused huge concern among EU leaders
Philippe Dam, HRW’s advocacy director for Europe, said Polish criticism of mass migration and Soros-backed human rights groups has urged Brussels to use Article 7 of the EU treaty to “send a clear signal to Poland’s president and prime minister that respect for human rights is not negotiable”.
Triggering Article 7 – a previously unused legal mechanism – would result in a nation losing its voting rights in the European Council.
The commission is doing its duty to respond to the deliberate attempts by Poland’s government to interfere with the courts, undermine basic checks and balances, and dilute the functioning of a key democratic institution
In an article for EUobserver, Mr Dam wrote: “The rule of law mechanism is designed to prevent the need for the European Union to use the procedure under Article 7 of the EU treaty intended for a serious risk of a breach of the bloc’s values, which can ultimately lead to suspending a member state’s voting rights.
“Yet faced with a government persistently unwilling to comply with its rule of law recommendations, the commission should logically now be contemplating Article 7 as the next step.
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He continues: “The commission is doing its duty to respond to the deliberate attempts by Poland’s government to interfere with the courts, undermine basic checks and balances, and dilute the functioning of a key democratic institution.
“The government now seems determined to restrict freedom of association. It is seeking to pass a law criminalising non-sanctioned public protests.
“The authorities are also trying to prosecute several people who participated in the December protests, on very questionable grounds.
Philippe Dam (L) made the damning remarks in an article for EUobserver
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“Add government officials’ anti-foreigner rhetoric, verbal attacks against Polish human rights groups, and the Office of the Ombudsman, and you have a cross-section of practices that contradict Europe’s values and require action from the European Union.”
HRW receives huge funding from Hungarian George Soros and has heavily criticised the policies of the conservative Polish government as a “cross-section of practices that contradict Europe’s values and require action from the European Union”.
Mr Dam’s article cites “a plan to roll back women’s abortion rights” and a recent anti-terrorism act which gives Polish authorities more powers to conduct surveillance on foreign nationals as “policies that threaten basic human rights”.
The news comes after former Polish prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Germany had abused the EU for its own gain, warning the era of a EU run from Berlin must come to an end.
Polish PM Beata Szydlo, pictured outside Downing Street after a meeting with Theresa May in November
“Unfortunately, for the most part Mrs Merkel is absolutely the number one in the EU, and that is not a healthy situation.
"It is necessary to strengthen the national states and reduce the competences of the union. We also need to protect ourselves from too much centralisation. Germany benefits from it, but others do not."
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