Stick and carrot. Or carrot and stick. This is what the main countries of the European Union have asked before the debate on the rule of law in Poland, which was not on the agenda, which has not produced conclusions, but which has crept into the summit due to authoritarian drift in Warsaw, which is placing the country outside the EU legal system through resolutions of a Constitutional Court questioned by the European institutions.
While the European Parliament announced this Wednesday that it would take the European Commission to court for not activating at once the mechanism of conditionality of European funds, by which money stops flowing to states that do not comply with European values , the heads of government of the main EU countries, Germany and France – and in some way Italy and Spain – have asked for caution before a Polish ordeal in which they only have one ally: the Hungarian Viktor Orbán.RELATED
“The Member States support the dialogue and also ask to use the existing mechanisms provided for by the treaties, as well as the existing texts,” diplomatic sources explain: “The debate has revealed that the members of the European Council are convinced that the rule of law and The independence of the judiciary is absolutely fundamental. The legal and institutional instruments have already been activated and could still be activated. The debate took place in a serene atmosphere, and it was the occasion to identify the exact difficulties and better understand the different points of view President Michel appreciated the constructive approach: rhetoric and mutual respect can facilitate or complicate solutions, and the president concluded that dialogue must continue to find solutions. Tonight’s debate is a step that should help find solutions. ” .
Thus, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron are pushing so that the European Commission does not rush to take measures that could deepen the confrontation with Warsaw: the president of the Community Executive, Ursula von der Leyen, warned Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday, that he was putting 106,000 million at risk – between cohesion funds, common agricultural policy and recovery funds.
Germany and France fear that the pressure could lead Poland to respond by blocking EU decisions, as well as weaken Polish Europeanism. In addition, all those present have in mind the conflictive past between Warsaw and Berlin, as well as the consequences that the detachment of the Eastern countries with the EU can have in geopolitical terms, given their proximity to Russia.
In fact, countries traditionally tough on the rule of law, such as the Benelux, have not expressed the toughness that they did show in June with the homophobic drift of Hungary, for example, which shows that the Polish weight is higher, particularly in the fights for the common agrarian policy, which also affects Spain, a country that has also called for dialogue, although no one has asked to discard the toughest measures.
During his speech, the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, insisted on what he expressed in his letter on Monday and his speech on Tuesday in the European Parliament: that the conflict between his country and the EU is not about the principles of the rule of law. But whether the EU is overstepping its jurisdiction when the European institutions question the independence of the Polish judicial system.
Morawiecki, in any case, reiterated that they are willing to reverse one of the decisions in discord, such as the judicial Disciplinary Board, considered an interference of the political power over the judicial by Brussels and the CJEU. Of course, he insisted that the Constitutional ruling that considers that part of the EU treaties violate the Polish Magna Carta does not undermine European jurisdiction.
“The rule of law is a fundamental pillar of the European Union,” said Angela Merkel in what may be her last European Council, the 107th after 16 years at the helm of Germany, “on the other hand, a cascade of legal disputes before the EU Court of Justice does not solve the problem of how to really apply the rule of law. I also believe that we have a problem that we must take very seriously, it is not just a problem between Poland and the European Union, it is also debating in other Member States The Conference on the Future of Europe is actually a good place to discuss, among others, these issues.
The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, said for his part, after meeting with the Polish Prime Minister: “Poland is a great country of the European Union that must lead the European integration project together with many others. But they must also understand that the European Commission is the guardian of the treaties, that its recognized role is to fulfill and enforce the legislation and the treaties. Therefore, from a position of support and support to the European Commission, what I have conveyed to the Polish Prime Minister , is that we find a constructive way of dialogue to be able to find a solution that removes the European Union and the Member States from this complex situation “.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, insisted, in any case, that the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court of Poland on the supremacy of national law over EU law had brought the crisis between Brussels and Poland to ” a new dimension “. He added: “We all have to take responsibility when it comes to protecting our core values.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, for his part, met with Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki at Brussels airport before the summit, and “shared his concerns about the situation created by the ruling of the Polish constitutional court,” according to sources from the Elysium. Macron also asked Poland to enter into a dialogue with the European Commission “to find a solution compatible with our principles and our common rules,” according to the sources.
Morawiecki, for his part, insisted that he is open to dialogue with his European counterparts, but that his government will not “act under the pressure of blackmail.” And he said Poland has already put forward some of the plans to withdraw the reforms that “may address some doubts raised by the EU Court of Justice”, referring to the controversial disciplinary mechanism for judges.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the main ally of the Polish Government, said upon his arrival at the summit that there is a “witch hunt in Europe against Poland” and that Warsaw is right: “The EU has primacy where it has powers. What happens here is that the European institutions circumvent the rights of national parliaments and governments, and modify the Treaty without having any legitimate authority to do so. “
The president of the European Parliament, Sassoli, for his part, has affirmed in his communication to the leaders, this time in writing because he is suffering from pneumonia: “The legal foundations of our Union have been called into question. It was not the first time, of course, nor will it be the last. But never before has the Union been so radically questioned. I believe that you, and all of us, must have a frank and open debate on the direction we want to give our Union”.