Friday, January 28

Poland maintains the pulse of an EU that for the moment prefers to avoid confrontation


Brussels

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The Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, arrived yesterday in Brussels with the will to “speak” to try to resolve the conflict generated by the ruling of the Constitutional Court of his country that establishes the prevalence of Polish law over European law, but with no intention of yielding to the pressure exerted by others countries (except Hungary) and the community institutions, especially Parliament, to back down.

Upon arrival in Brussels, the head of the populist national executive in Warsaw said that “we will not act under the pressure of blackmail, we are ready for dialogue. We do not agree with the increasing scope of European competences, but we want to speak to resolve the current disputes in agreement and with dialogue.

European leaders prefer to maintain a firm position on the issue of respect for the rule of law in Poland but without abandoning the communication channels to avoid the train crash. The strategy is based primarily on avoid the substantive debate on the limit of European competences and the sovereignty of the countries, which has never been fully resolved, and focus it on the lack of legitimacy of the court itself that has issued the controversial sentence, whose composition has been declared non-compliant by European justice. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, which awaiting the formation of the new government chaired by the Social Democrats is in what could be its last European summit, once again displayed its conciliatory spirit and urged caution and dialogue. Other governments that have more aggressive positions towards Warsaw also did not want to create an impossible situation for Morawiecki and preferred to focus on the broader context that the same court that issued the ruling is not politically independent, and in denouncing that they have been the reforms of the party of the Government, the PiS (Law and Justice), which have filled the judiciary with loyal supporters and have expelled judges who do not consider favorable, which led to the conviction of the Luxembourg Court of Justice and in turn the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

However, Morawiecki chose to focus the discussion on the definition of the prerogatives of the Union, and insisted that Poland does not accept “and we do not agree” on which competences that do not appear in the treaties. “Such as safety issues or others related to sport”, are regulated by the European Commission or the Court of Justice of Luxembourg. The Polish leader is convinced that “some European institutions attribute the right to decide on powers that have not been transferred to them and confer upon themselves powers that the treaties do not grant them.”

Before the meeting Morawiecki met with the French president Emmanuel Macron at the same Brussels airport. According to Eliseo sources, Macron expressed his “concern” about the Constitutional ruling and has asked the Pole to agree to dialogue with the Commission “to find a solution compatible with our principles and our common rules.”

The other countries, except Hungary, whose Prime Minister (Viktor Orban) arrived at the Council’s headquarters saying that “Poland is the best country in Europe”, have upheld the principle that common law prevails over private law. In Poland they have already begun to accuse these attacks with smear campaigns on official television. The last case has been that of Holland, whose government insistently asks the Commission to freeze financial aid if the Warsaw authorities do not change their mind, and which the Polish official television has presented as “a nest of drug trafficking and crime” that “violates European laws.”

The most belligerent in any case is being the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, who the day before had asked the legal services of the European Parliament to “prepare legal actions against the Commission for its non-application of the Conditionality Regulation”, to stop the flow of financial aid to Poland, although the name of this country is not specifically mentioned in the proposal. The Commission has until November 2 and first it is expected that the European Court of Luxembourg will define whether or not this conditionality mechanism is legal, which has been challenged in turn by Poland and Hungary.

The Commission can activate this conditionality mechanism, approved with this year’s budget package, when violations of the principles of the rule of law undermine the good management of the EU budget or threaten to do so. The procedure may have as a consequence, through the Council, the suspension or reduction of certain funds for a value equivalent to the damage caused to the financial interests of the Union. For the President of Parliament, the fact that the case is in the hands of the courts does not prevent activating the new tool, although the legal experts of the community executive probably prefer to avoid a mess like the one that could occur if the justice said that it is not legal.

However, on Wednesday, after the tense debate in which the Polish prime minister participated in the meeting of the Conference of Presidents, the equivalent of the Bureau of Parliament, the majority of the leaders of the political groups of the European Parliament supported the idea of ​​preparing a future legal action against the Commission. “We do not intend to evade our institutional role in defending the basic principles on which the European Union is based,” Sassoli told the Council members yesterday in his speech.

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