Polish leaders defend reforms as EU warns of 'dangerous Putinisation of European politics'

Standard and Poor has cut Poland’s credit rating over fears about government direction

Poland’s President and Prime Minister will both attempt to restore their country’s plunging reputation and uphold their democratic credentials with visits to top European Union and Nato officials in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The trips come after a punishing few days, with the European Commission announcing on Wednesday an inquiry into whether recent laws pushed by Poland’s new ultra-conservative government breach EU democratic standards. On Friday, Standard and Poor’s cut Poland’s credit rating over fears the government was weakening the independence of key institutions.

The Polish President, Andrzej Duda, is due in Brussels on Monday where he will meet the European Council President, Donald Tusk, and Nato’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg. Poland’s Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo, will visit the European Parliament to face critics.

The Parliament’s President, Martin Schulz, calls the reforms a “coup” and warns of a “dangerous Putinisation of European politics”. The leader of the Parliament’s liberal group, Guy Verhofstadt, says Ms Szydlo is “driving Poland’s relationship with the EU to a new low”.

Ms Szydlo and Mr Duda are from the Law and Justice party, which won a resounding victory in October. Since then, the government has pushed through laws weakening the country’s Constitutional Court, bringing public media under direct government control, and allowing the party to appoint its own people to high posts in state institutions.

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