The stand-off with Warsaw

in Crisis 2018 · EN · Europe 2018 · Nation 2018 · Politics 2018 · Polska 2018 · YOUTUBE 2018 48 views / 5 comments
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* Poland’s far-right party is subverting democracy, and setting the country on a collision course with the EU.

Poland is changing. In 2015, the far-right Law and Justice party, or PiS, won both the presidential election and a slim parliamentary majority. Since then, they’ve been working to cement their power by firing judges, purging the military and civil service, and cracking down on protesters and the media. All of this has put the country on a collision course with the European Union that could threaten Europe’s hard-won peace and prosperity following centuries of conflict.

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The stand-off with Warsaw is the fast approaching crisis point for Brussels, with the pair also locked in a bitter tussle over changes to the Polish judiciary that the EU says threaten the rule of law. 

In a furious statement today the Polish foreign ministry accused eurocrats of mixing up the issue of migrant quotas with its “political” fight against rule of law changes, saying this was “unfortunate”. 

It also accused the EU Commission first vice-president, Dutch official Frans Timmermans, of getting involved in a political crusade against the right-wing government and acting like “the opposition”. 

The statement said: “Poland has sent a motion to the European Commission requesting it to discontinue its ongoing infringement procedure. Should it be continued, Poland is prepared to argue its case before the Court of Justice of the European Union.”

Hungary and Slovakia — two other countries who have refused to implement the quotas — are already fighting the policy at the ECJ after appealing the EU Council’s decision to implement it. However, the pair looks set to lose their case following an opinion published by the Advocate General. 

Mr Timmermans announced the instigation of infringement proceedings against Poland last month and said at the time that he was not ruling out triggering Article 7 as a punishment. 

The measure, never before deployed, is the most severe sanction the bloc can impose save for expulsion and would strip Poland of its voting rights on the EU Council. 

European nations introduced a mandatory migrant quota system in 2015 to help alleviate the pressure on Greece and Italy but Eastern European nations, who were outvoted on its implementation, have always resisted it. 

Polish ministers have inflamed tensions over the issue by directly linking the arrival of refugees with the increased terror threat in Europe to justify their refusal to take part. 

And according to recent polling voters are well on its side, with 57 per cent saying they would be prepared to forgo the billions of pounds a year the country receives in structural funding from Brussels rather than comply. 

The IBRiS survey revealed a further 51 per cent are prepared to take a step further and vote to quit the bloc altogether if the EU forces an allocation of refugees on Poland. 

Some Western European nations, most notably France and Italy, have floated the idea of cutting off funding to nations who have refused to take in migrants saying they are showing a lack of “solidarity”. 

* An earlier version of this story stated that Poland was preparing to «take the EU to court» over migrant quotas. Actually, it is the EU Commission which will bring legal proceedings against the Polish state, which can enact the right to defend itself at the ECJ. 

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  Vox



  1. A year later, the commission raised additional concerns about a law empowering the justice minister to remove and appoint the presidents of ordinary courts.

  2. Through Article 7, yes. However, as the standoff escalates, the EU is separately considering limiting access to development funds in the post-2020 budget for countries that disrespect the bloc’s values.

  3. Poland is the biggest net beneficiary from the EU’s common budget, and there are signs the economy is increasingly reliant on that money.

  4. “Law & Justice may win in Warsaw because Jaki doesn’t have a strong enough competitor on the other side,” said Bojanowski. “By lacking a convincing message, the opposition is in fact helping Law & Justice.”

  5. The country’s deputy prime minister, Jaroslav Gowin, said at the end of August that Poland will ignore ECJ rulings.

    EU ministers wanted to receive assurances from Szymanski that Poland will abide by the rulings of the EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice.

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