Prime Minister Morawiecki laid out plans for his new cabinet

TVN24


Poland's prime minister set out plans on Tuesday to strengthen the state's role in the economy and deepen an overhaul of the justice system that has put Warsaw on a collision course with its European Union partners.

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Mateusz Morawiecki told parliament the governing Law and Justice party (PiS) would continue increasing the share of Polish capital in the ownership of domestic companies and promised more welfare spending.

"Neoliberals have fuelled a sense of confusion in our value system. Many people were led to believe that the state is a ball and chain," he said in a policy speech after an Oct. 13 election that gave PiS four more years in power.

"Extremes are not good. We are building a normal state," he said.

Morawiecki spoke repeatedly of a return to "normality", referring both to PiS's economic policies and its conservative vision of the traditional family which has won over voters but has been criticised by opponents for encouraging homophobia.

He promised new welfare programmes to help families with at least three children and the elderly.

After communist rule ended three decades ago, Poland embraced tough economic reforms that liberal western economists said were needed to save the economy, but PiS says they created a free-wheeling form of capitalism that fuelled inequality.

He gave no details of the steps PiS plans to take in its reforms of the judiciary. The party says further reforms are intended to make the court system more efficient but opponents say the reforms made so far have politicised it.

In separate comments, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński said: "Our society... must be based on the Polish family, the family in its traditional sense. A family which takes the form of a relationship between a man and a woman."

Opposition lawmakers criticised PiS's vision of normality.

"The desire for normality means the rule of law and economic prudence, and you break those principles day after day," said Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the largest opposition party, Civic Platform.

European Commission legal action

Since returning to power in 2015, PiS has introduced changes to how courts are run and altered some of the rules governing the Constitutional Tribunal and the Supreme Court.

The European Commission, the EU executive, responded by launching legal action over reforms which it says threaten the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Morawiecki made clear PiS would press on with the vast welfare spending that has helped make it popular. He promised new welfare programmes to help families with at least three children and the elderly.

His government will review public spending on state institutions to save money and help keep public finances in check, he said.

PiS has said it will keep a balanced budget in 2020, benefiting from one-off revenues and fast economic growth, although some economists say such plans are too ambitious at a time when the European economy is slowing down.

"We don't want to be a wealthy state of poor people, or a poor state of rich people. We want to be a wealthy community," he said.

Poland's PM Morawiecki gave an expose in the parliament
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Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters