BERLIN, Jan 3 (Reuters) - German Commissioner Guenther Oettinger will urge the European Union to start a process against Poland over its proposed law on control of state-run media, he told a newspaper on Sunday.
The Polish parliament passed an amendment to the media law, put forward by the ruling conservative-nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), in December that gives a minister authority to appoint managers of state-run radio and television stations.
It must now be signed by the president to come into force. Critics say the law is part of PiS plans to increase state control over the media.
Oettinger said he would raise the issue at the next meeting of the European Commission on Jan. 13.
“There is a lot to be said for activating the mechanism on the rule of law and putting Warsaw under supervision,” Oettinger, Commissioner for the digital economy, told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS).
The mechanism was adopted by the EU in 2014 and means it can issue an early warning and enter dialogue with any member state the Commission sees as a threat to the rule of law.
If the country does not respond, the Commission can start a process which could ultimately lead to the withdrawal of its voting rights due to a breach of European values.
Without citing sources, the FAS said Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had put the issue on the agenda of the meeting and wanted to use that instrument.
The Commission has written to Polish ministers expressing concern over the media law and seeking an explanation of how it would take EU rules on media freedoms into consideration.
The Eurosceptic PiS, which ousted the governing centrist party in October’s election, has rejected criticism that its policies are undermining democracy. It argues that it has a mandate to push for more independence from Brussels.
It has also caused concern within the EU with its amendment to a law on the constitutional court which critics say will erode checks and balances on government powers.. (Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Janet Lawrence)