Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

Poland compromises on EU birthday declaration

German chancellor Angela Merkel's attempts to revive the EU constitution were given a boost after Poland dropped its opposition to the Berlin Declaration, a statement marking the EU's 50th birthday and intended to relaunch discussions on the EU treaty.

The turnaround came after a bilateral meeting between the chancellor and Polish president Lech Kaczysnki over the weekend.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Lech Kaczysnki (r) - did not want Poland to be alone in its opposition (Photo: prezydent.pl)

After the event, which saw a partial thaw in frosty relations, Mr Kaczynski said he did not want Poland to be the only country against the declaration, which is to be formally unveiled on 25 March, the anniversary of the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

"I don't see any reason why we should find ourselves in such a situation," he told Polish public television on Saturday evening.

Poland had been holding out for a reference to Christianity in the declaration, something firmly opposed by countries like France.

Polish daily Gazeta Wyborzca quotes the president as saying that "Poland's stance is important for Germany."

"The German presidency wants the declaration to represent a kick-off for the talks on the constitution and maybe even something like its preamble."

For her part, Mrs Merkel told news agency DPA after the meeting that she had noticed "a common will to make progress in the EU."

"As for the constitutional treaty, we have agreed close cooperation in the coming months," she said, with both countries facing major discussions on the voting system in the EU constitution, which Warsaw wants to change.

The chancellor's visit was also marked by a speech at Warsaw University, in which she expressed sorrow for Germany's killing of 6 million Polish citizens during World War II and said her government would never support compensation claims by fringe German groups for land ceded to Poland after 1945. The oration met with warm applause.

It now appears that the chancellor has in principle the support of all 27 member states for the declaration - a three page document that is to sum up where the EU has come from and where it is going.

But the exact wording is still contentious. The Czech Republic is firmly opposed to having any reference to a deadline for getting a new look EU treaty agreed while wording on the social aspect of the EU has to please both the pro-market camp and the camp that feels the EU is more than just its internal market.

An important detail on Sunday when the declaration is unveiled is likely to be whether all 27 EU leaders sign up to the document or whether it is just signed by the EU presidency.

"Whether the presidents of the parliament, the council and the commission or all the heads of state and government sign is for the [German] presidency to decide. What is important is that the declaration is accepted," said EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, according to Austrian Daily Der Standard.

The declaration itself is supposed to inject some optimism and dynamism into the EU which has been going through a prolonged period of introspection since French and Dutch voters rejected the EU constitution in 2005.

This sombre period appears to be reflected by EU citizens. According to a poll conducted in the EU's five biggest countries by the Financial Times, just 25 percent believe life in their country had improved since it joined the EU, while 44 percent feel it has become worse.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us