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EU cites ‘serious concerns’ over Poland’s amended Russian influence law

Bloc stresses its misgivings over newly adopted legislation that critics say targets the Polish opposition months before parliamentary elections

BRUSSELS — The European Union on Thursday said it still had “serious concerns” after Poland adopted an amended version of a law widely seen as targeting the opposition.

Poland — a neighbor and strong ally of Ukraine, which is battling Russia’s invasion — in late May set up a committee with the stated goal of investigating citizens who may have succumbed to Russian influence.

Brussels launched legal action against Warsaw over the law, which if passed could have banned those found guilty of holding sensitive public positions for up to 10 years.

Critics argued the measure, introduced just months before parliamentary elections, would be used to target opposition leader Donald Tusk. His party even dubbed it the “Lex Tusk,” or Tusk Law, because of what they said was its true aim.

Under pressure, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed an amended bill into law on Wednesday that removed the threat of a ban from public office.

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Instead, the panel will issue a statement that the person has succumbed to Russian influence and cannot be guaranteed to work properly in the public interest.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda gives an interview to journalists at the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 11, 2023. (Petras Malukas/AFP)

But European Commission spokeswoman Anitta Hipper said the EU executive had already told Warsaw that “even if the amendments to the law aim to bring improvements, the law as amended continues to raise serious concerns.”

There were still issues regarding “compliance with the EU law once the committee becomes operational and launches checks,” she added.

Poland’s governing conservatives have been at loggerheads with Brussels since coming to power in 2015 over claims Warsaw fails to fully uphold EU laws, particularly in regard to the judiciary.

Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland and European Council president, is posing a major challenge to the ruling Law and Justice party ahead of elections later this year.