Polish PM Rules Out EC Sanctions Over Media, Justice Reforms

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Poland's reforms to its media and justice systems will not invoke European Commission sanctions, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said, local media reported Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On January 7, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a decree giving his government power to appoint the heads of public television and radio, as well as civil services. The bill drew widespread opposition from EU leaders and press freedom advocates. Over the weekend, Germany's CDU party leader Volker Kauder suggested that EU nations should consider imposing sanctions on Poland over its violation of European values.

"There is no risk of sanctions against Poland. The European Commission cannot impose penalties," Szydlo said on Poland's TVN24 television channel.

In Wednesday's EU response to the move, the commission's First Vice-President Frans Timmermans warned Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro of the commission's upcoming review of the controversial media law and December constitutional court laws for compliance with EU tenets on the rule of law.

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Timmermans is from the Netherlands where courts do not pass rulings on the constitutionality of laws, Szydlo said, adding that the necessary documents had been sent to the European Commission and that the body's President Jean-Claude Juncker had been invited to Poland.

The prime minister put the complications in the relations between Poland and the European Union down to in-party power struggles within the Civic Platform main opposition party.

In late December 2015, the Polish president enacted a controversial reform stipulating that Constitutional Tribunal ruling must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the court's judges. The reform will enable the ruling Law and Justice party to influence the tribunal's decisions through five judges appointed by the government last month, critics argue.

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