The crisis in relations between Poland and the European Union began at the end of 2017, when the European Commission gave a harsh response to Warsaw, which was persistently implementing the planned reforms of the judicial system. According to the European Commissioners, the reforms have threatened the very existence of the rule of law in Poland and can undermine the common values of the European Union.
The situation is extremely acute, since neither side intends to make concessions. The introduction by Brussels of so-called disciplinary measures against Poland was a truly unprecedented act of punishing an entire state that is part of the European Union.
The punishment is based on the application of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (aka the Lisbon Treaty, full title: the Lisbon Treaty on Amendments to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, 2007). As a result, Warsaw may lose its right to vote in the EU Council.
According to the December statement of the European Commission, the thirteen laws adopted by Warsaw in two years, allow the Polish state to significantly interfere in the practice of the judiciary, thereby undermining the values and foundations of the EU.
Warsaw in its sharp manner responded to the statement of Brussels. The decision of the European Commission was condemned by the Poles as “politically motivated”. According to Warsaw politicians, the planned reforms are carried out in the framework of the fight against corruption and management inefficiency. The President also made a speech. Andrzej Duda told dissatisfied European Commissioners that he had already decided to sign laws on judicial reform.
Thus, the launch of sanctions by the European Commission did not frighten the Poles. On the contrary, they showed a decisive attitude.
The European Commission also did not give up its decisions. The executive body of the EU still requires Warsaw to reject new laws and fulfill a number of EU requirements. Among them are the main ones: Warsaw must abandon the idea of extending the mandates of the members of the Supreme Court by the personal decision of the president; Warsaw is ordered to annul the new regime of resignation of judges: the Minister of Justice should not have the right to dismiss judges at his own will; Warsaw should also restore the independence of the country's constitutional tribunal.
European commissioners left a loophole for Poland: the 7 article will not be applied if, within three months, Warsaw still fulfills the requirements of Brussels.
A month later, in January, the European Commission chairman tried to reassure the European and Polish public. According to him, Brussels has differences with Warsaw because of the reform of the Polish judicial system, but the EU is not preparing to impose sanctions against Poland "by all means."
"We are in a constructive dialogue with the Polish government, - said Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking at the European Parliament. - We are not at war with Poland. We have a disagreement with the Polish government. ”
The crisis in relations between Poland and the European Union is also annoying to Germany, which is the economic engine of the EU.
It came to the assumption of the withdrawal of Poland from the European Union.
Leaving Poland from the EU is “absolutely possible.” This is stated directly in the title of the article by J. Kroll, published in the German newspaper «Die Welt».
Concern about possible violations of the rule of law in Poland, the author notes, the European Commission for the first time expressed it back in 2016 year. Since then, the “confrontation” of the parties has only intensified. And the time came when Brussels took "decisive action."
By deciding to hit the “legal atomic bomb” on the government in Warsaw, the European Commission takes a big risk, which is fraught with consequences for the whole of Europe.
Frans Timmermans, the first deputy of Jean-Claude Juncker and the Commissioner for Interdepartmental Relations and the Rule of Law, now feels “uncomfortable,” Krolly believes. He considers the initiation of the procedure of sanctions against Poland a difficult decision. But putting the core values of the European Union at risk is unacceptable. He stated this himself in Brussels. This is done “with a heavy heart,” but “there is no other way out,” Timmermans summed up. “It’s not only in Poland, it concerns the whole European Union,” he added.
As a result, Poland will be hit from the “heaviest weapon” of the EU, which is only in the arsenal. According to the European Commission today, Poland has violated the principle of the independence of its judiciary, and therefore Brussels intends to call on the countries of the union to initiate a judicial investigation against Poland.
And the first question for an analyst concerned about the fate of Eastern Europe is this: does Brussels understand how counterproductive the “unprecedented solution” is? And another: does Brussels understand how much such a decision feeds the existing frustration from the EU?
Timmermans and his colleagues, of course, are aware of this risk. Therefore, for two years, Timmermans tried to dissuade the Polish government from reorganizing the justice system. Negotiations, inquiries, mediation efforts, visits, invitations - that just has not been tried! Brussels, however, was never able to “force Warsaw to surrender,” the author notes. Therefore, in the end, a bet was made on the “atomic version” (that is, on the application of Article 7 of the above-mentioned contract). For Brussels, it is time to act.
Are the most serious sanctions possible?
Strict penalties can only be taken by all EU countries by unanimous decision. But Hungary has already stated that it is firmly on the side of Warsaw.
Against the background of the crisis in relations between Poland and the EU, there is also political tension between the East and the West, the author recalls. The split is expanding. The opinion is expressed that the “right-wing Catholic government of Poland” successfully imposed on the society the image of the EU as an enemy of Poland and declared that the “morally decayed” West is “rolling”.
The current "legal atomic bomb" from the European commissioners will only accelerate centrifugal forces. Perhaps the EU has waited too long and now it can hardly do anything in the struggle for the rule of law in Poland. 13 laws have already been passed.
In Brussels, however, believe that the risk of inaction is even higher.
The consequences of the sanction strike are “hardly predictable,” the author of the material said. Who knows if this will not end with Poland’s withdrawal from the EU, which will take place even if the population doesn’t want it (and according to surveys, it doesn’t want it).
According to political analyst Renata Mienkowska, the Polish government is probably not interested in staying in the EU after 2020, that is, after the next parliamentary elections and at the beginning of the new EU budget period. “It hurts me to say that,” she said, “but the withdrawal of Poland from the EU is absolutely possible” (absolut möglich).
So think not only political scientists.
Polish authorities may hold a referendum on leaving the EU "in the style of Brexit", suggests the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. According to him, this will happen if Poland stops receiving funding from Brussels.
The head of the European Council is convinced that the Polish party “Law and Justice” sees the benefit of participating in the European Union solely in receiving funds. Poland wants to be a “pure beneficiary”. And while the European Union is throwing money into Poland, the game for Poland is “worth the candle.” Everything that goes beyond the balance of payments (common market, law and order, guaranteed security, etc.) is not interested in Poland.
“Therefore, - the British newspaper quotes the chairman of the European Council "The Telegraph"- I can easily imagine a situation where one day Poland will be among [not the beneficiaries, but] contributors, and the Polish government will decide that the time has come to ask the Poles whether they still want to see Poland in the EU and then work in that direction so that they [Poles] come to the conclusion: it is necessary to say goodbye to EU membership. ”
According to Tusk, Brussels still has high hopes for the preservation of Poland in the EU.
Some experts do not admit that the friction between Poland and Brussels can shake the unity of the EU.
Differences between Poland and European bureaucrats will hardly shake the foundations of the EU: the “locomotives” of the union will agree among themselves, says Yury Solozobov, director of international projects at the National Strategy Institute. He is quoted RIA News:
“The European Union locomotives, France and Germany, will be able to agree on the creation of a unitary Europe. Here it is important who will enter the core of this union, and who will remain on the periphery. In the current situation, Poland just will not be released. Warsaw is the largest recipient of financial assistance from the EU, and after 2020, it should start paying for the funds provided. Therefore, Brussels from Poland will not refuse. As the German experts are joking, it is easier to change the Polish leadership than to let the situation in Warsaw go by itself. And in the country itself, no one from the EU really wants to leave - everyone appreciates a comfortable life. ”
So why does Poland behave this way? This was explained by another expert, political scientist Sergei Stankevich, who lived in Poland for several years. “In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Sejm deputies had the principle of liberum veto, a free veto, which allowed any deputy to stop the discussion,” he recalled. - It is preserved in the national character: Poland has the right to veto. Plus nobility arrogance, passion: "I will die, but I will insist on it." Therefore, the chain of the world socialist system was broken there. ”
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Will the Poles insist on their? Hardly. Today, Great Britain has faced great difficulties in the form of a “payment for a divorce”. Well, Poland, which will have to pay for European support, in case of an attempt to leave the EU after 2020, is facing a real financial collapse. The government that is acting now simply does not look that far. These are temporary workers - they are doing business today, tomorrow others will be clearing them.
Show beneficiaries, depositors will respond.
Observed and commented on Oleg Chuvakin
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