In spite of earlier threats, the EU is unlikely to take measures against Poland, after president Andrzej Duda signed a temporary new law Thursday that is a major step toward giving the government full control of state radio and television.
The new law allows for the immediate dismissal of the heads of state radio and television, and transfers the authority to appoint successors to the treasury minister, from a separate radio and TV committee that oversees the media. It also limits the number of members sitting on the state broadcasters’ supervisory and management boards.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday warned of a veto on any possible EU sanctions against Poland, a strong regional ally, following a recent meeting with the head of Poland’s ruling party.
“The European Union should not think about applying any sort of sanctions against Poland, because that would require full unanimity and Hungary will never support any sort of sanctions against Poland,” Orban told public radio in an interview.
Orban met Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), on Wednesday in a move to strengthen an emerging eurosceptic axis in central Europe.
On Thursday already, Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU is unlikely to punish Poland.
The European Commission will debate Poland’s rule of law on Jan. 13, a step that could eventually result in the country losing its EU voting rights on matters that concern the entire 28-nation bloc.
But Juncker said on Thursday that option, known as the Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union, was unlikely.
“Let’s not overdramatise. We have to have friendly and good relations with Poland so our approach is very constructive. We are not bashing Poland”, said Juncker.
The new media law has also provoked concern among independent media organizations, which say that it threatens media freedom in Poland.
The “measures taken by the Polish government are contradictory to media pluralism and independence of public service broadcasting, and to democracy in Poland,” the European Federation of Journalists said Thursday in a letter to Gunther Oettinger, the European commissioner responsible for media issues who suggested on Sunday that Poland should be put under a special monitoring mechanism.
“They would be in clear contradiction to EU fundamental values,” the letter added.
(with AP, Reuters)