Until last week’s summit (Thursday and Friday) of the 27+1 European leaders in Brussels, the exit of Britain from the European club was the tougher test for the club’s unity, which everybody was more or less getting ready to face up to. However, the Polish Prime Minister, a stocky middle aged woman, reversed that and stole the show for a very shocking reason.
It was on Thursday when she offloaded her home grown, aggressive and unwarranted attitude against Donald Tusk, her compatriot political opponent, the President of the European Council. On Friday, Poland threatened and came close to destroying the atmosphere of unity, which France and Germany wanted to prevail in the gathering of the 27 leaders. Despite the Polish MP’s vehement opposition, early on Thursday, Tusk got a new term as EU Council President with all the 27 votes, except Warsaw’s. The next day, Poland also remained alone in opposing the ‘multi speed’ Europe’. Let’s take one thing at a time.
A frantic PM
Before and after Thursday’s vote, the Polish PM Beata Szydlo, authentically broadcasted in Brussels the weird voice of her boss, Jarosław Kaczyński the extreme right-wing, chauvinist, authoritarian and Eurosceptic President of their Law and Justice Party. It seems that Kaczynski cannot remain sane, seeing his political opponent Donald Tusk, presiding over the European Councils. This is probably a good reason why he appointed subservient Beata as Prime Minister, after his party won the October 2015 election, ending a seven years Tusk Premiership. Seemingly, Kaczynski couldn’t attend the EU Summits as a ‘simple Prime Minister’ under the Presidency of his political opponent Tusk.
During the past months, Tusk, expressing a general EU sentiment, kept criticizing the Law and Justice Party for a number of apparently undemocratic and unconstitutional laws, which flagrantly breach the relevant EU legislation. Kaczyński’s laws are aimed at extending his party’s grip on pivotal state institutions, like the Constitutional Court and the public television. Such overtly authoritarian government action has attracted strong criticism from within and without Poland.
Poland in discomfort
In the brief period of some months under the Law and Justice party, this country has become the ‘denier’ of Europe, despite the extra generous EU subsidies Poland receives, to modernize her infrastructures in all sectors of the economy. It was exactly this reality that the French President Francois Hollande reminded Szydlo, in a very poignant intervention. The outgoing French President actually told Szydlo to stop biting the hand that feeds her.
However, the Polish PM increased her aggressive tone on Friday, while speaking to journalists. During this second day of the summit, the 27 EU leaders met without the presence of the British MP Theresa May. Szydlo though, continued on the same hostile stance, even knowing that the most important task for the EU Council on that day was to display unity. This is a necessity because by the end of March, Britain is expected to energize Article 50 of the EU Treaty, to kick start the exit procedure. In detail, on Friday, the 27 leaders had to prepare the new ‘Declaration of Rome’ to be signed on the 25 of this month, to celebrate the 60th birthday of the EU, after the first ‘Declaration of Rome’ was signed on 25 March 1957.
Theoretically, this occasion had to be an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between the 27 member states. But quite surprisingly it didn’t, because the ‘directoire’ of the EU had planned otherwise, in order to pacify the ‘deniers’. In this way, it turned out to be a new test for the central European EU member states and more so Poland. Jean-Claude Juncker the European Commission President, Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany and more so the outgoing President of France Francois Hollande only hours before last weeks’ summit and ahead of the Rome ‘randez vous’, all chose to stress in the most solemn way, that the future of the EU lies in the ‘multiple speeds’ EU architecture.
This proposal or rather the reality of a stratified EU is not new in Brussels. In the past, we had the ‘concentric cycles’ architecture and of course the exclusive 19 member states Eurozone. Given the fact that the central European member states, the ex-communist ‘Visegrad four’ (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) have recently been very aggressive against Brussels and Berlin over the immigration crisis, the new ‘multiple speed’ theory is clearly primarily targeted on them. This is a direct challenge for the four above mentioned countries, with Poland the largest and more important amongst them. By the way, the four southerners Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal despite being under pressure on many fronts, ‘de facto’ belong to the first speed of the EU, as members of the euro area.
Beata left alone
It’s highly probable then, that the rough time the Polish PM had last week in Brussels, was staged by a Brussels-Berlin-Paris scenario, to bring out the worst self of the Warsaw’s rulers. This kind of drama was the best way, to convince the other Visegrad members to accept the ‘multi speed’ theory, as an absolutely necessary new EU ‘geometry’. On the background of the appalling Polish fury, the rest of the Visegrad countries took their distances and isolated Warsaw. It seems that this was the most important result of the latest EU summit.
Poland remained alone in the first day, when even Britain denied supporting Warsaw’s governing extremists and voted for Tusk. In the second day, when Szydlo stated that in Rome she will not support a ‘Declaration’ dividing the EU in many speeds, the other three of the Visegrad group rushed to reassure Brussels and Berlin that they will not follow Poland in her solitary road.
In conclusion, the March 2017 seems to set a new landmark in the EU history. Not only Britain is to officially ask to leave the EU club, but also another big country, Poland may be ostracized from the European project, if its leadership continues in their reclusive course.