France’s recently appointed junior Minister of European Affairs, Clement Beaune on Wednesday warned Poland over financial “consequences” if it withdraws from a European treaty on preventing violence against women.

“There will be consequences if it does,” Beaune told France Inter radio, according to Reuters. Beaune, who replaced Amelie de Montchalin, added that Warsaw could be “hit in the wallet,” through the bloc’s new mechanisms foreseen in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027.

His warning followed the announcement by Poland’s Justice Minister and Attorney General Zbigniew Ziobro, who said on Saturday that his Ministry would submit a request to the Labour and Families Ministry to begin the process of withdrawing from the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention.

Ziobro, who represents a smaller right-wing party, within the ruling coalition along with the Law and Justice party (PiS), supported that the country has sufficient legal tools to protect victims of domestic violence, and that the anti-violence treaty signed by Poland in 2015, violates parent’s rights, by requiring schools to teach children about gender from a sociological point of view.

The announcement has prompted an outcry, with thousands of protesters taking the streets of the capital and other cities over the weekend to demonstrate against the government’s plan.

Concerns were also raised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and its Secretary General, as well as by EU lawmakers, who called on the European Union to access the Istanbul convention, and to take action about the situation in Poland.

On Sunday, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) distanced itself from the announcement, citing that not everyone in the coalition was in favour of the withdrawal decision.

The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding instrument dedicated to combating violence against women and a milestone in the history of women’s rights protection. It provides a definition of gender and gender-based violence and foresees, among others, the criminalisation of abuses such as the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), marital rape, and forced marriage.


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