Times of Euroscepticism
The pessimists were right. As many of them predicted, the European Commission decided to initiate proceedings against Poland under Art. 7 of the TEU. It does not mean that sanctions will be imposed, nonetheless Poland has been publicly chastised. The Commission’s decision has a negative effect on Poland’s image and weakens its negotiating position. It could also mean that Poland will receive less funds from the next EU budget.
As I have said repeatedly, the consequences of this decision could be hard to swallow. Contrary to popular belief, it won’t be Poland, but the Union that will suffer. The grounds on which the Commission made its decision were very shaky. If Brussels accuses the Polish government mainly of violating the rule of law, why doesn’t it accuse the European Commissioners of the same thing, but on a larger scale? The Commission is not and cannot be a court or an arbitrator. It does not have such powers, knowledge or authority. Braced with ambiguous and imprecise language of the treaty, it decided to go on the war path with Poland. Rule of law is not the issue here.
The Commission did not wait for the effects of the laws passed by the Sejm on the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court to appear; it also did not wait for the President to sign the bills into law. What’s more, it did not give Mateusz Morawiecki, the new prime minister, the time and opportunity to argue Poland’s case. It would have been the proper thing to do. But the Commissioners decided otherwise. They must have come to the conclusion that when the opposition is not up to the challenge and its ratings are falling sharply, when protests against allegedly unconstitutional reforms of the justice system are fizzling out and the turn-out at them is low, they have no choice but to step into the shoes of the opposition.
How such measures will turn out politically is easy to see. Growing support for the Law & Justice (PiS) party will be one of the effects. The stronger the words of condemnation, the louder and more ferocious the criticism, the bigger the win for PiS. Perhaps thanks to the Commission PiS will gain a constitutional majority in the coming elections that it wants so much. Increasingly Poles are coming around to the idea that the Commission is victimizing Poland. European politicians are not without bias in this conflict. It is plain to see that they have caved into pressure from the left and the liberals for whom Poland’s conservative government is a stumbling block. It is grotesque actually that many former Trockites, Maoists, and communists in the European Parliament and the Commission see themselves as the prime watchdogs of democracy.
Weakening opposition to PiS will be the second effect of the Commission’s actions. Fighting the Commission will increasingly become a national cause, for which the commissioners are themselves to blame. The question is: does Poland have the right to be independent and sovereign, whether Poles will decide on their own about the content of their laws or whether it will be up to other external entities. The Commission has created a situation whereby support for the opposition becomes evidence of subjection. Poles, so enthusiastic about the EU so far, could radically change their attitude. Euroscepticism will find wider acceptance among Poles. “Polexit”, something unimaginable until now, will become a normal political option.
In the long run, Brussels’ decision is also bad news for other Member States. Apparently European politicians have not drawn any lessons from Brexit. In the past they were not able to demonstrate flexibility and strike a deal with London and now their hubris and short-sightedness take the upper hand in their talks with Warsaw. If you are trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it, you will only make the flames bigger. It’s just a question of time before other states and societies revolt against Brussels’ rule.
Author: Paweł Lisicki
Source: “Do Rzeczy”