Poland has hit back after the European Parliament voted in support of launching sanctions against it.
The 438 to 152 resolution in favour of initiating Article 7 proceedings against the Central European country — which could see its EU voting rights suspended, among other penalties — was preceded by a fierce debate, the Associated Press reports.
Guy Verhofstadt, a former Prime Minister of Belgium, a European Parliament group leader, and a Brexit negotiations representative — logged as a “reliable ally” by the Open Society organisation run by billionaire open borders campaigner George Soros — accused the Polish government of having “lost its senses”.
Verhofstadt later took to social media to disparage the Slavic country at greater length, saying it had “degraded itself” to the level of Hungary, another conservative EU member-state which is frequently subject to the Belgian’s vituperative attacks.
Poland could still be a leader in Europe, but has degraded itself to the gang of Orbàn and its illiberal societies. Kaczynski has copied Orbàn by politicizing the constitutional court, curtailing the civil society, muzzling the free media #EPlenary
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) November 15, 2017
In theory, the European establishment’s major issue with Poland is its attempts to increase the accountability of the judiciary, which they claim undermine the rule of law.
The Poles insist they are only trying to strengthen the system of checks and balances, as, at present, a judicial bench which harbours holdovers from the Communist era and answers only to itself can block the executive and the legislature, but cannot be checked by the executive or the legislature itself.
— Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (@pisorgpl) July 22, 2017
How Poland chooses to organise its judiciary internally is thought by many to be a mere pretext for EU intervention, however, with the Central European country being unpopular for its friendly relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and its status as a key bastion of opposition to efforts to redistribute illegal immigrants throughout the EU by a system of compulsory migrant quotas.
Indeed, Ryszard Legutko, who heads Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) delegation of MEPs, has accused EU elites — and in particular Germany’s Manfred Weber, who heads the dominant European People’s Party (EPP) bloc in the European Parliament — of harbouring a “colonial” attitude towards the EU’s eastern member-states.
With respect to Weber’s early and enthusiastic denunciation of Poland’s judicial reforms, Legutko pointed out that “Mr. Weber does not know the Polish language, did not know the contents of these laws, did not know any expert opinions, [and] is not interested in the subject at all” — but still felt able to weigh immediately after their publication.
The EU Parliament's Brexit negotiations rep just branded Trump white supremacist and Poland and Hungary “alt-right” https://t.co/L2ITTWKsWj
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) September 13, 2017
“This is not a dialogue, it is not an invitation to talk, it is an ultimatum,” said Legutko, highlighting the EU’s apparent hypocrisy in turning a blind eye to the excesses of the Spanish government in Catalonia while launching an “anti-Polish crusade” against his country.
“This is what Shakespeare called ‘the insolence of office’ — the insolence of bureaucracy; the impudence of power.
“You think you can say anything. You think you can do anything.
“Your actions will not harm Poland, we have dealt with bigger problems — they will harm the European Union,” he warned.
“All the anti-EU diatribes made in this parliament have done less harm to the image of the Union than you have.
“To destroy the image of the EU, you have done more than Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen together.”