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Polish justice minister calls EC head ‘blackmailer’

Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland's justice minister, has branded the European Council (EC) president, Ursula von der Leyen 'a blackmailer' after she said the EC had the tools to ensure democratic standards when commenting on the likely election victory of a hard-right party in Italy.
Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s justice minister, has branded the European Council (EC) president, Ursula von der Leyen ‘a blackmailer’ after she said the EC had the tools to ensure democratic standards when commenting on the likely election victory of a hard-right party in Italy.

The far-right bloc Brothers of Italy led by Giorgia Meloni is poised to win this Sunday’s general election in Italy, and Meloni could become Italy’s first woman prime minister.

Referring to concerns in some European capitals that Italy may join Poland and Hungary in the ranks of troublesome members for the EU, Von der Leyen said at Princeton University in the United States on Thursday: “My approach is that whatever democratic government is willing to work with us, we’re working together.”

But she also said that “if things go in a difficult direction, I’ve spoken about Hungary and Poland, we have tools.”

The statement triggered a strong response from the Polish justice minister: “Von der Leyen’s true name is: blackmailer,” Ziobro wrote on Twitter on Friday. “She’s not concerned about the rule of law, but about having governments that Berlin wants.”

He also complained that the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, had agreed, despite his warnings, to a conditionality clause to be attached to funding from the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund.

Poland has yet to receive money from the fund because the EC insists the country must meet a number of rule-of-law milestones before it gets the cash.


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