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EU threatens to suspend Poland’s voting rights in growing row over ‘values’

The EU looks set on revoking Poland’s voting rights at the European Council, in response to the country’s alleged "breach of fundamental EU values".

Published: November 17, 2017, 10:43 am

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    MEPs voted by 438 to 152 votes to condemn the “serious violations” by Poland and recommend that Member States launch Article 7 procedures, which would strip Poland of its right to vote in the EU and could see the former Eastern European country’s funding withdrawn.

    An official told Polish press agency PAP: “So far, the EP has rather taken the stand that the issue should be dealt with by the European Commission. Now it wants to take the matter into its own hands and direct a request towards the Council.”

    Prime Minister Beata Szydlo dismissed the vote as “outrageous” and said she would address the issue at a leaders summit on Friday in Sweden.

    Prior to the vote, a Polish MEP stormed out of the plenary, saying the “debate” was nothing more than an “Orwellian show” and a “show of strength against the Poles and the Polish government. This is not about the rule of law, it is not about values, it is about power, about who has power,” said Ryszard Legutko, PiS leader in the European Parliament.

    The resolution demanded that Poland also condemn the “xenophobic and racist march” that took place in Warsaw on November 11, and to provide free contraception and make emergency contraception available without prescription.

    In June the Polish President Andrzej Duda signed off on a law to list emergency contraception as a prescription drug.

    By triggering Article 7 of the EU treaty, the Council is unlikely to obtain a unanimous vote. The generous development funds that Poland receives from the EU, may be cut however.

    The Polish foreign ministry rejected the move by Frans Timmermans and the European Parliament, accusing it of stigmatising an EU member state. Witold Waszczykowski called on the EU to mind their own business. “There is nothing happening in Poland that would demand a debate by 700 members of the European Parliament,” he said.

    Austrian politician Georg Mayer said in response to the EU vote that the Freedom Party, would not support the resolution against Poland. He said: “We as freedom people do not want the EU to interfere here.”

    Hungary too, has called the resolution “out of the question” and announced it would veto any plans to take away Poland’s voting rights in the European Parliament.

    Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén has called the European Parliament’s resolution proposing the invocation of Article 7 against Poland a “shameful and scandalous” measure.

    According to MTI, the deputy prime minister confirmed that Hungary would veto the invocation of Article 7 against Poland. “The Hungarian government stands by Poland and the adoption of such a resolution is out of the question,” Semjén said.

    The resolution submitted by the European People’s Party, the Socialists and Democrats, ALDE liberals, the greens and the radical left EP groups was adopted by the European Parliament at its plenary session earlier in the day.

    The MEP group of Hungary’s allied ruling Fidesz-KDNP parties had refused to back the resolution because they considered it “unacceptable” that “Brussels should pressure sovereign member states” and “punish democratically elected governments”.

    The Hungarians are expected to go to the polls in April or May next year.

    The obvious rift between voters and the Brussels Superstate is widening. Some 90 percent of Hungary’s 18-24-year-olds would vote for anti-migration parties, according to a new poll by Republikon.

    The poll revealed that Orban’s Fidesz party, who are enjoying record support in the polls after standing up to the EU on migrant quotas, is backed by 59 percent of younger voters.

    Jobbik, a conservative nationalist party which is trying to soften its image to appeal to more voters, while retaining it’s anti-EU, anti-mass migration heritage, has the support of 27 percent while a left-wing pro-migration party is struggling with only 11 percent.

     

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