Friday

20th Apr 2018

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).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  2. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  3. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  4. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  5. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  6. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  7. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  8. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights