Poland's president signed a new law giving the government control of state radio and television, an official announced Thursday, despite concerns from the European Union about media independence in the country.
Andrzej Duda signed the legislation because he wants state media to be "impartial, objective and reliable," his aide Malgorzata Sadurska said. She added that the president doesn't believe the broadcasters guarantee objective information in their current form.
The new legislation allows for the immediate ending of the terms of the heads of state radio and television, and gives the treasury minister the authority to appoint successors. It also limits the number of members sitting on the state broadcasters' supervisory and management boards.
Sadurska said the president is fully aware of the European Union's concerns, and believes the new law won't be detrimental.
Some EU leaders, however, have expressed alarm, saying that Poland's media freedom is being threatened. On Tuesday, European Union human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks appealed to Duda not to sign the law.
The Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog, also urged Duda against signing the proposed media law. Its commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks, called on him "to uphold the independence of Poland's public service television and radio" in a statement Tuesday.
The European Commission will debate Poland's rule of law on Jan. 13, a step that could eventually result in the country losing its European Union voting rights on matters that concern the entire 28-nation bloc. Poland joined the EU in 2004.
In reaction to Duda signing the law, European Commission deputy head Frans Timmermans said he was looking forward to having a dialogue with Poland about the changes in legislation.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Poland is an "important and full member of the EU" and he didn't want to speculate about the consequences of steps being taken by the new government in Warsaw.
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said he wants to meet Friday to discuss "strange and unclear statements" by European Union commissioners concerning the changes in the law.
The relationship has soured quickly between the EU and Poland, which for years was considered a success story within the bloc for its building of democracy and its strong economic growth.
But the liberal, pro-EU Civic Platform that ruled for the past eight years lost presidential and parliamentary elections last year amid accusations that large social groups were excluded from participating in the economic success. Law and Justice won on promises it will work to remove the inequalities.
Duda will have a chance to discuss the situation when he travels to Brussels on Jan. 18 to meet EU President Donald Tusk, who was the head of Poland's previous government before taking the European Union job in December 2014. Duda is also to meet NATO head Jens Stoltenberg to discuss the agenda for the alliance summit to be held in Warsaw July 8-9.