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Debates
Wednesday, 15 January 2020 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

Ongoing hearings under article 7(1) of the TEU regarding Poland (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Terry Reintke, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I was also one of the people who had the pleasure and the honour today to speak with the representatives of the Polish judges, lawyers and prosecutors. To be honest, there was one sentence said in that meeting that impressed me a lot, and that I wanted to repeat here in this Parliament. One of the representatives said: ‘I swore an oath on the Polish Constitution when I started my job, and with all I do I’m trying to stay true to this oath and defend the rights of Polish citizens’.

To me, this really encapsulates what kind of people we have to protect in situations like this: these are the kind of people that defend the rule of law, defend our democracies, and are the backbone of our democracies and of the systems that all of us have been profiting from in the past. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers are one of the fundaments of this tripartite system, and that is why protecting them really also means protecting the separation of powers, and thus our democracy. Indeed – and colleagues have mentioned it – what we have seen in Poland in the past years is an organised campaign against that very important backbone, and the Commissioner has mentioned the latest developments in this field.

This Parliament and the EU institutions have taken steps in order to defend the rule of law and European citizens in Poland, but I believe that the Article 7 procedure has actually proven to very often come too late and be too inflexible to meet all these attacks that have been happening. I think we need to have a more holistic vision, and the rule of law mechanism that is going to be proposed is one of the instruments that we need, together with budgetary measures and, of course, enabling civil society, enabling these representatives to work together.

Let me finish by saying that I really hope the Croatian Presidency is going to follow the Finnish example in standing up for the rule of law, but just be assured that – no matter what is going to happen – this Parliament will continue to stand up for the rule of law and democracy in the future.

 
Last updated: 31 January 2020Legal notice