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Polish President Duda signs controversial law despite concerns across the continent

Media outlets across Europe today continue to report the latest developments on the Polish media law that has been a source of concern in the EU. The INYT, and Diário Económico, among others, report that Polish President Andrzej Duda has signed into law a new act giving the Minister of the Treasury control over state broadcasters, despite criticism from the Council of Europe, who had urged that the act not be signed.

A FAZ article says that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch PM Mark Rutte met yesterday. Both men were keen to point out they did not wish to “overly dramatise the latest developments in Poland.” “We will start a new procedure, which we invented in 2014,” President Juncker said, confirming a previous announcement by Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger. However, the European Commission is confident that it will not have to strip Poland of its EU voting rights, report the likes of FAZ, Magyar Idők and Diário Económico.

Along the same lines, President Juncker tried to ease tensions yesterday, speaking of a very constructive approach, as reported in Kathimerini. De Tijd and Focus News Agency, for instance, also quote him stressing that it is necessary “to have a friendly and good relationship with Poland” despite the fact that the Polish matter was “an important question.” TVP info reports that Brussels is still waiting for Warsaw’s reply to two letters it has sent to the Polish Government. But an occasion to clear the air may come next week when Poland’s European Affairs Minister Szymański will meet an EC representative and also visit Brussels later in the week.

In Wirtschaftswoche four authors analyse whether European values are still applicable in Eastern Europe. In a critical tone, they compare President Juncker’s wholehearted European thinking to the appearance of what some might consider a “bloodless” European Council President Donald Tusk. While some Polish media “aggressively” criticise the EU for its warnings aimed at the Polish government, the European Commission has merely sent pleading letters, reminding Poland of European values, the authors point out. They further consider that Warsaw seems to be increasingly incompatible with EU values.

European affairs expert Paulo Sande says in Diário Económico that once more Europe has been hesitating in adopting a firm position, adding that Poland seems to be following in Hungary’s footsteps. Along the same lines, Jutarnji list’s Augustin Palokaj highlights that, when an EU member state endangers EU values, the EU basically has no tools to take action. According to Mr Palokaj, Poland was, therefore, able to flatly ignore the two letters sent by Brussels.

He also refers to the tone used by President Juncker – asking that the situation not be dramatised – and considers it as a sign of the EC’s powerlessness. Keno Verseck stresses on that Eastern European countries are looking for a fight against liberal Europe. They consider the EU to be a “bureaucratic monster, as well as an ugly, imperialistic power and regard Brussels as the new Moscow.”



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