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Defence minister says parliamentary speaker runs from responsibility

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland’s acting defence minister, has accused Szymon Holownia, the newly-elected speaker of the Sejm, lower house of parliament, of evading responsibility after he did not put a PiS bill to a vote.

On Monday, the Sejm received a bill, submitted by the Law and Justice (PiS) caucus, concerning the “halting of amendments to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which are dangerous to the Republic of Poland.” 

On Tuesday the draft was referred by the speaker to the European Union Affairs Committee for first reading.

PiS, an EU-critical party that had ruled Poland for eight years, has often said the EU is heading in a wrong direction by becoming too centralised as they advocated for more independent member states. But the emerging ruling coalition of three pro-EU parties may reverse that course.

Blaszczak said that in doing so Holownia evaded responsibility, because he did not put the bill to a vote.

“Speaker Holownia ran away from his responsibility and did not put to a vote a resolution to stop changes to the EU Treaties that limit our sovereignty,” Blaszczak wrote on the X platform on Tuesday. “They are laying the groundwork for us to cease to be hosts in our own country. You will not succeed in making Poles believe that nothing is happening.”

The Sejm speaker said that the bill “calls on the government to block work on revising the EU Treaties.”

He justified his decision, saying that the bill had been referred to receive experts’ evaluation. 

“This project is very serious as it wants to impose obligations by law on the Polish government and Polish MEPs,” he said.

Over the past week, the first days of his term in office, Holownia has repeatedly expressed that he is planning to set new standards for the proceedings of the Sejm. 

He has made it his goal to fight against the practices of ‘freezing’ bills by the speaker or ‘slipping’ them in by parliamentary caucuses to be read during the next day’s sitting.

“There will be no such thing as something being slipped in on the evening prior and read on the next day during a sitting,” the speaker recently said about a bill put forward by the New Left. “Those days are gone and will not return,” he added.

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