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"Votes do not grant legitimacy to destroy democracy" Iratxe García tells Morawiecki in the plenary debate


19 Oct 2021


Central Europe

In the presence of Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, the S&Ds today stood up for Polish people, who in an overwhelming majority want to remain part of the EU family.  

The S&Ds call for sanctions and for the putting on hold of recovery funds for Poland. This is necessary to try to keep Poland in the EU legal order and to support the Polish democrats calling for much stronger pressure on the PiS government. It would also send a clear message to deter other countries from following PiS’ path in questioning the supremacy of EU law.

The leader of the S&D Group, Iratxe García, said in the plenary:

"The Constitutional Court ruling has created an unprecedented crisis. I am sorry for the millions of Poles who want to be in the European Union, who feel like members of this family and who now do not know what will happen to their future. My political group definitely does not want Polexit, but when someone threatens not to respect the rules, they put themselves at the exit door.

"The PiS government does not understand what the Union is. The EU is a serious organisation, based on legal certainty. Unlike dictatorships or absolute monarchies, in the European Union the law rules. It is the same for everyone and it guarantees peace, precisely because it is fair, predictable and because it is upheld.

"70 years ago, the founders of the EU understood that in an interdependent world, the best way to exercise sovereignty in certain areas is by sharing it, because together we can better solve problems.  

"In order to share this sovereignty there are some basic principles: the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and respect for the freedom of the press.  It seems to me that this is where the problem lies, that governments like the Polish one have embarked on a path of regression and authoritarianism. Their problem is not with the legal system of the European Union, it is with the principles of democracy and the rule of law, and that is even more worrying. Votes do not grant legitimacy to destroy democracy.

"The Commission is obliged to act with all force and all instruments to ensure that the principles of the Union are respected. If it is accepted that one country cheats, the trust is lost and we move from being partners to being competitors.

"Poland is much more than PiS, Hungary is much more than Orbán and Slovenia is much more than Janša. The citizens of these countries, who are suffering from the authoritarian drift of their governments, trust the Union.  A few days ago, I was in Warsaw and I felt the affection of so many people who have put their trust in Europe. We are not going to disappoint you. We will be your voice. We are not going to leave you alone."

Notes to editors:

Following the debate, on Thursday the European Parliament will adopt the resolution on the rule of law crisis in Poland. The S&Ds want the Commission to urgently trigger the new conditionality mechanism and to open infringement proceedings against Poland for breaching the treaty. The Council must take the Article 7 procedures to the next level, issue concrete recommendations and impose sanctions if they are not respected.

Neither the European Commission nor the Council should approve the Recovery programme in the current circumstances. They must not fall for the promises of the PiS government that the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber will be reformed or removed. This is not enough to restore the rule of law in Poland.

The Constitutional Tribunal and the National Judiciary Council should cease to exist in their current forms. Poland must implement all the rulings of the EU Court of Justice and stop harassing independent judges. If there are no independent courts in Poland, there is no control of EU funds.