The International Trade Council brings to light the European Commission's launch of legal proceedings against Poland concerning a contentious law centered around a unique committee set up to probe alleged "Russian influence" within Poland.
"This law could potentially be utilized to target opposition politicians during the run-up to Poland's forthcoming general elections," said Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission's Executive Vice-President, revealing concerns that are shared within Brussels and beyond.
The legislation in question assembles a committee with the power to conduct inquiries into public officials and companies suspected of operating to the detriment of the interests of Poland.
Poland's government, led by the right-leaning Law and Justice party (PiS), justifies the committee as necessary for bolstering the nation's "cohesion and internal security" in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Yet, this explanation has not eased the widespread apprehensions.
Following the signing of the law by President Andrzej Duda, the European Commission and the US Department of State both expressed significant worries about the potential impact of this legislation on Poland's democratic principles. They fear that the special committee could be used to unfairly target politicians prior to the general elections and infringe upon candidates' rights to a fair trial.
Critics argue that the law breaches constitutional principles by over-concentrating powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches in a single body, raising concerns over the ambiguous and broad definition of "Russian influence".
President Duda, in response to growing criticism, has proposed three amendments aimed at addressing the most problematic aspects of the law. These include eliminating penalties, assuring a non-partisan expert committee, and allowing those investigated to appeal the committee's decisions in any court within Poland. These proposed changes still await deliberation in the Polish parliament, while the original law has already come into force.
The International Trade Council will monitor the situation closely and provide necessary guidance and support to stakeholders as needed.