Thursday

19th Sep 2019

Poland: Multi-speed EU could 'break apart'

Poland has warned that the creation of a multi-speed Europe could "break apart" the EU, as it heads toward a confrontation on rule of law.

Polish president Andrzej Duda issued the doomsday warning at a congress in Krynica, a Polish town, on Tuesday (5 September).

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

  • Polish government has accused Tusk (r) of colluding with Russia on the 2010 Smolensk air disaster (Photo: Consilium)

"Brexit is not a risk for the EU … A bigger threat is if the EU starts to break apart into a multi-speed union, into blocs where some are stronger and can decide about others. Then it would lose attractiveness not only for those in the B and C-classes, but also those seated in the A-class," he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

"The end result could be a divided EU that's not politically or economically viable, which may break apart the bloc," he added.

Duda also accused the European Commission of overreaching its powers in seeking to chastise Poland on judicial reform.

"There's no justification in EU treaties that allow the bloc to shape the judicial systems of member states," he said.

"It's natural that EU institutions and representatives aim to extend their powers, but it's our job to say: 'Wait a minute - you're getting into fields where there's no grounds for your presence'," he said.

Duda spoke after French president Emmanuel Macron said last week he favoured a "Europe of several formats".

Macron said the eurozone, for instance, should have its own budget, and said he would make detailed proposals after the German election.

Duda's comments on judicial reform come after the European Commission, also last week, threatened to seek sanctions against Poland on grounds that the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party was trying to usurp control of courts and judges.

The Commission will ask member states on Wednesday to discuss the issue at a meeting of their EU affairs ministers in Brussels on 25 September, Reuters said.

Amid Duda's talk of A, B, and C-class states, the sanctions could see Poland lose its vote in the EU Council altogether in what would be an unprecedented step.

Multiple fronts

The Polish government is in conflict with the EU establishment on multiple fronts.

The ruling PiS party has ignored an EU court order to stop logging in a primeval forest.

The Commission has threatened to fine Poland for refusing to honour an EU Council vote on taking in asylum seekers.

PiS has also accused EU Council leader Donald Tusk, a former Polish PM, of colluding with Russia and has called for WWII reparations from Germany.

A new French plan to tighten rules on EU posted workers, such as Polish truck drivers, threatens to add another confrontation to the list.

Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski took a "diplomatic" approach to Macron's posted worker initiative on Tuesday.

He said French and Polish labour ministers would discuss the issue because "as diplomats, we are obliged to seek a compromise".

He added that Poland and its neighbours, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, were "eager to look for a positive solution, and only then will we be thinking of any way of blocking [the plan]".

But Poland's deputy prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, was up for a fight.

He told the Krynica congress on Tuesday that France and other wealthy EU states "discriminated" against Polish workers.

"When we started to succeed, our EU partners began to place curbs on the free movement of services, calling it 'social dumping'," he said.

WWII claim

Waszczykowski, the foreign minister, earlier on Monday, said the WWII reparation claim was no joke.

"We should sit down to serious talks with the Germans and together think about how to deal with the issue," he told RMF FM, a Polish radio broadcaster.

He said the "material losses alone" that Nazi Germany inflicted on Poland were "close to $1 trillion [€840bn]".

He noted that "in legal terms, the matter is ambiguous" and that PiS had not yet finalised its claim.

But he added: "How can we deal with the fact that Germany's 1939 attack and unresolved postwar issues still cast a shadow on Polish-German relations?".

"The fact is that Poland was destroyed during the war, terrible crimes were committed here, and we have received no compensation," he said.

Macron revives multi-speed Europe idea

"We have to think up a Europe with several formats," said the French president, who will make "concrete" proposals after the German elections.

Opinion

Forcing refugees on Poland will do more harm than good

While the principle behind the EU's decision to take action against Poland for rejecting its refugee quota is understandable, the move could have damaging long-term consequences while bringing absolutely no benefit at all.

Agenda

Juncker to outline EU vision This WEEK

Commission chief to kick off the political season with a new vision for the future of Europe as he begins the last full year of his term.

Juncker calls for united EU under one leader

The Commission president wants his position to be merged with the presidency of the European Council, and for all EU states to be in the eurozone and Schengen by 2019, post-Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. EU adds €100m to research and Erasmus budgets
  2. Ambassador: UK Poles should 'seriously considering' leaving
  3. Trump's UK ambassador stirs up anti-EU feeling
  4. Brexit chaos is lesson to other EU states, ECB governor says
  5. EU condemns Israel's latest land grab
  6. Scotland to keep some laws aligned with EU after Brexit
  7. Spain to hold fresh election in November
  8. Turkey ups pressure on visa-free entry into EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. A new Commission for the one percent
  2. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'
  3. Germany adopts blockchain strategy and says no to Libra
  4. Revanchist Russia continues to rewrite European history
  5. How EU trains discriminate against the disabled
  6. These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission
  7. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  8. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing

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