Friday

22nd Mar 2019

Borisov: Poland vote would give EU 'sleepless nights'

  • 'I very much hope that the [Polish] government will do everything needed in order to overcome the controversies', says Bulgaria's Borisov (l) (Photo: Consilium)

A vote on sanctions against Poland over its rule of law issues would give the EU "sleepless nights" and should be avoided, Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov said on Thursday (11 January).

"We should not get to this point," Borisov, whose country has just taken over the presidency of the EU Council - the institution where member states meet - told journalists in Sofia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Last month, the European Commission triggered article 7 of the EU treaty to open a sanctions procedure against Warsaw.


The commission said that unless the Polish government steps back before the end of March, it would ask the council to declare that "there is a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the rule of law."

The decision would have to be taken by a majority of four-fifths of EU countries.

"If we have to go [to] voting, we'll have sleepless nights on how to vote," Borisov said, adding that Bulgaria "will do its best" not to bring the discussion to the council.

He said that such a discussion between member states "would set a very dangerous precedent."

Speaking through a translator, Borisov argued that breaches to the rule of law were "so vague" to measure.

"Every time you want to hurt someone's feelings, you put [on the table] 'the rule of law'," Borisov added.

In any case, the Bulgarian government downplayed expectations that a decision would have to be taken in the coming months.

"I don't expect something specific with immediate effect happening" under the Bulgarian mandate, which continues until 30 June, noted Lilyana Pavlova, the minister in charge of the EU presidency.

She insisted instead that "the procedure is just starting."

'A great country'

She explained that "the first step will be to analyse and to have the positions of every country, including Poland."

"We'll have to consult with the legal services, having additional analysis and then to continue on the next steps," she said.

Pavlova rejected, however, the idea that Bulgaria was trying to put to one side an embarrassing issue.

"We are ready to work, we are ready to put it on the agenda. However, we have to follow the procedure," she said.

The first discussion will take place on 27 February, at a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers.

On Tuesday, the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki met the commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. The two men said in a joint statement that they would try to make progress "by the end of February."

Borisov, who insisted that Poland was "a great country", said that he "very much hope[d] that the [Polish] government will do everything needed in order to overcome the controversies and find a good tone of voice."

"My feeling is that the government is investing effort into finding a solution," he added.

New Polish PM aims for 'progress' on rule of law

The new Polish prime minister has hit a more conciliatory tone in Brussels when meeting EU commission chief Juncker, but sticks to the judicial reform despite the threat of possible sanctions.

Bulgaria's corruption problem mars EU presidency start

A dispute between the government and the president over an anti-corruption law has put the spotlight on one of the Bulgaria's main problems - just as it is trying to showcase its economic and social progress.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  2. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  3. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  4. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  5. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  6. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  7. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May
  8. Juncker suggests emergency Brexit summit next week

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us