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EU's Juncker: Polish rights issue are EU's business too

BRUSSELS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The European Union does not have a problem with Poland but with actions of the new, Eurosceptic Polish government, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, adding these actions were very much the business of the EU as well.

In an unprecedented move, the European Union executive arm launched an inquiry on Wednesday into whether Poland’s new right-wing government has breached EU democratic standards in taking more control of the judiciary and public media.

“Let’s not mix up Poland and the new Polish government,” Juncker told a news conference.

“I don’t want the Polish people to have the impression that all the EU is rising up against Poland. Poland is a country which inspires a great deal of respect and admiration in my case.”

But he noted that as member of the 28-nation EU, Poland’s issues also needed to be viewed in light of EU treaties.

“This saying in Poland that this is a matter for the Polish legislature and that it has no relation whatsoever with European competences is a totally wrong idea,” Juncker said.

The EU’s rule of law monitoring, launched in the case of Poland, could end up in Warsaw’s voting rights in the EU being suspended, if the country ignores possible suggestions from Brussels under the so-called Article 7 of an EU treaty.

But Juncker played down that possibility.

“We are in a dialogue, in a consultation process. It doesn’t make sense to draw the attention to the application of Art.7. If it has to happen, it will happen, but it is not my assumption.” (Reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Jan Strupczewski and Gabriela Baczynska)

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