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Former Polish Presidents Ask EU to Help Defend Rule of Law

Former Polish President Lech Walesa (pictured above, right) and several other former leaders have asked the European Union to defend the rule of law in their country.

In a statement published in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza on June 13, the former leaders said they fear that a new law regulating the Supreme Court that takes effect on July 3 will destroy the democratic system of checks and balances in Poland.

Their open letter to the European Commission says “there will be no democratic Poland without a state of law.”

The signatories include former presidents Aleksander Kwasniewski (pictured above, second left) and Bronislaw Komorowski as well as former prime ministers, foreign ministers and leading Solidarity activists.

The statement came on the same day that the EU announced that the Council of Ministers would hold a hearing on Poland’s alleged rule-of-law violations later in June, pushing forward with a disciplinary process that Warsaw insists is unjustified.

Meantime, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has proposed that the nature of the country’s relationship with the European Union should be one of a number of questions that feature in a constitutional referendum likely to take place later this year. Specifically, Mr Duda wants to ask Poles if the country’s EU and NATO membership should be guaranteed in Poland’s constitution. Another question would see Poles asked whether they think the primacy of the Polish constitution over international and European law should be guaranteed.

While a ‘no’ vote would not see Poland leave the EU, it would nevertheless be viewed by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) as validation of its increasingly eurosceptic stance.

A range of domestic issues will also be addressed in the referendum, including expanding the president’s powers in foreign affairs and defence, while questions will also look at whether the term ‘Christian heritage’ should be included in the constitution.

“I at first thought that a constitutional referendum should not have more than 10 questions, but today’s project encompasses a total of 15 questions,” said Mr Duda. “I want the constitutional committee to discuss them before we present the final version to the Senate in July.”

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