EC will look into Poland's new media law if passed

"We fear that the so-called strategy of 're-Polonisation' of the media goes against our values: media freedom and pluralism, and also against our internal market," Jourova said. Yves Herman/PAP/EPA

The European Commission (EC), the EU's executive arm, will scrutinise Poland's new media legislation to determine if it complies with EU law, an EC vice-president has said.

Vera Jourova, the EC vice-president for values and transparency, told the European Parliament on Wednesday that the EC will be especially interested to see if Poland's legislation complies with EU rules on freedom of entrepreneurship.

The new bill, which has been approved by the lower house of parliament but rejected by the upper house, changes Poland's media law to limit ownership of Polish media companies to entities based in the European Economic Area. Critics have suggested the bill is an attempt to silence government-critical US-owned broadcaster TVN.

"When media freedom and pluralism are under threat, democracy itself is under threat," Jourova said in her address.

"We fear that the so-called strategy of 're-Polonisation' of the media goes against our values: media freedom and pluralism, and also against our internal market," the EC vice-president went on to say.

"This is why we covered the new draft media law, also known as 'lex-TVN,' and the situation of Polska Press in our 2021 report (on the rule of law - PAP)," she continued.

In December 2020, state-controlled fuel giant PKN Orlen purchased Polska Press, which owns 20 leading regional newspapers, 120 weekly magazines and about 500 websites. The move has raised concerns among government critics as well as Brussels officials that the government may be using state-controlled assets to purchase independent press publications in order to silence them.

Jourova said she had heard "many concerns from many sides on this draft law."

"I also note that the Polish Senate (the upper house - PAP) rejected the bill last week, on Thursday, the 9th of September.

"If this law is ultimately adopted, we would need to assess its compliance with EU law and in particular the right to freedom of establishment," Jourova said.

The Sejm, the lower house, can override the Senate's veto with an absolute majority of MPs. However, the agenda of the current three-day sitting of the Sejm, which started on Wednesday, does not include a re-vote of the legislation.