After Brexit and Grexit, Brussels to deal with Poloust

Jaroslaw Kaczynski (on the left), at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, in one of his very rare visits to EU institutions. 31/03/2004. Copyright: © Communaut√©s europ√©ennes 2004 – EP.

After Grexit and Brexit that have both been haunting the European Union for quite some time, and will continue doing so in the foreseeable future, Brussels seems obliged to ponder Poloust that is kicking Poland out. The country is steadily sliding to rightwing coercion, under the leadership of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a rampant populist, authoritarian and extreme Eurosceptic politician, President of the governing Law and Justice party (PiS). This party won an absolute majority in the legislative on the 25 October 2015 general election, getting 37.6% of the vote. Its President is the identical twin brother of the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who was elected in 2005 and died on 10 April 2010 in an air crash accident in Parada Równości, while on official business.

Since Lech beat Doland Tusk in the Presidential election of September 2005, the twins have been haunting Polish and European politics. Even before that, Lech as Mayor of Warsaw had showed his authoritarian extreme right wing inclination by banning the famous Warsaw gay pride parade, the Parada Równości. Instead, he encouraged and actually helped organize the “Parade of Normality”. The latter show was prepared by right wing youth organizations, some with close to fascist ideology.

Authoritarian practice

In the steps of his brother, Jaroslaw, the surviving twin, after PiS came first in the 2015 legislative election, placed all state media under the direct control of his government. The sitting President of Poland Andrzej Duda, having being elected under the banner of PiS, signed the relevant Parliamentary legislation into law in early January 2016. Under the new rules, the senior journalists of state radio and television are appointed and sacked at will by the minister of Finance and not any more by the National Broadcasting Council.

This is a large body representing all Parliamentary parties and the main civil society organizations. The next day the new law was published in the government gazette, the directors of the state media resigned in protest. The change was criticized by the major European political parties, journalist unions and civic society organizations.

Targeting the independent courts

Now, Jaroslaw wants to do the same with the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, the top court of the country. His obvious target is to be able to replace the judges at will. The judges must be prevented from overruling as anti-constitutional other authoritarian and undemocratic legislation produced by the PiS controlled Parliament. This eventuality will put the court system of Poland, the third pillar of the democratic governance, under the power of the executive (the government). To be noted, Jaroslaw Kaczyński retains the title of President of PiS, having appointed as Prime Minister his faithful follower Beata Szydło.

The issue has shaken Brussels, because the EU is based on the basic democratic principle of the Separation of Powers. The legislative, the executive and the court system operate in parallel and independently, acting as checks and controls of each other. This is the essence of the western democratic system, as developed during the past two hundred and fifty years after the French Revolution of 1789. Any discrepancy of this rule is unacceptable, in any version of the democratic governance system. For example, the Western democracies currently accuse Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro of placing the legislative and the judiciary under their executive government, with the end result being a one man rule, close to totalitarian dictatorship.

Direct threat to democracy

Last week, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The Commission is determined to defend the rule of law in all our Member States as a fundamental principle on which our European Union is built. An independent judiciary is an essential precondition for membership in our Union. The EU can therefore not accept a system which allows dismissing judges at will. Independent courts are the basis of mutual trust between our Member States and our judicial systems. If the Polish government goes ahead with undermining the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland, we will have no other choice than to trigger Article 7.”

Under Article 7 of the European Treaty “the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons. The obligations of the Member State in question under the Treaties shall in any case continue to be binding on that State”.

Freezing Poland’s EU membership

Under the EU Treaty, ‘the suspension of the voting rights of a member state’ and ‘the suspension of the rights of natural and legal persons’ are the gravest punishment the Union can inflict on a member state. It’s impossible to throw out a member state without it asking for that, as it happened with Britain and came close to that with Greece. However, a member state without voting rights and its natural and legal persons also being deprived of their rights are as good as being ousted from the Union. Legally, though, this member state will still be obliged to continue paying regularly its contribution to the EU budget. Actually, it’s the freezing of the membership of a member state, and this is what Brussels is now preparing for Poland.

Brussels can’t do less

For obvious reasons, EU Council President, Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland until 2014, followed suit after Juncker. Tusk, while in Warsaw, said “There is a question mark over Poland‘s European future today”. Then he added “I do understand emotions of Poles who are concerned about courts, or Poland’s future in the EU.” The EU Council President was in Warsaw to testify about the 2010 air accident which claimed the life of Lech Kaczynski and 96 other Polish military and political dignitaries. For months now the Polish government has been trying to implicate Tusk in that case. It also tried without success to block Tusk’s reelection in the EU Council Presidency. However, in the relevant vote during the Valletta Summit of the 29 EU leaders, the Polish PM Beata Szydło was characteristically isolated. Not even the regular companion of Poland, the Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, backed Szydło.

The complete isolation of Warsaw in the EU Council makes the threat of freezing the country’s EU membership a real eventuality. This is what Article 7 explicitly states, if Jaroslaw Kaczyński accomplishes his plan to appoint and dismiss the judges of the Polish Constitutional Court at will. However, Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, pressed by the public outcry in the country, last week said he will veto the draft law, which is designed to subject the supreme Court to the control of the government and the ruling party. It’s not clear though if the President of Poland is able or willing to overrun legislation voted in Parliament with increased majority.

In conclusion, if Kaczyński continues defying the founding principles of the European Union, Brussels would have no other alternative than to freeze Poland’s membership. In such a case, the European Union will find itself in dire straits having to, at the same time, confront the Brexit tribulations, straighten out the always edgy Greece and deal with Donald Trump’s twists.

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Women ‘vital’ to peace efforts and ensuring long-lasting stability in Afghanistan

Syria still suffering ‘staggering levels’ of humanitarian need, Security Council hears

Appalling overall unemployment in Eurozone at 20.6%

Afghanistan: EU reinforces humanitarian support with €40 million as crisis worsens

Piracy and high seas crime growing, becoming more sophisticated, UN Security Council told

Syria: Ease suffering, save lives, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator tells Security Council

Dual Food Quality: Commission releases study assessing differences in the composition of EU food products

6 things to know about the General Assembly as UN heads into high level week

Creating shared value: an opportunity and challenge for entrepreneurship

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

UN condemns Syrian ‘war on children’ as up to 30 reportedly killed in clashes

Serious concerns over Sahel, require ‘urgent action’: Senior UN Africa official

The European Sting writes down the history LIVE from G20 Leaders’ Summit in Turkey

Fostering defence innovation through the European Defence Fund

Madagascar: UN chief commends nation on first round of peaceful elections

Could Rwanda become Africa’s healthcare leader?

A new generation of women leaders is making waves in the Arab world

Border management: EU signs agreement with Montenegro on European Border and Coast Guard cooperation

EU-wide protection and support for whistle-blowers

E-cigars: Improbable ally or enemy in disguise?

G7: A serious setback hardly avoided in iconic Biarritz

If this is Globalization 4.0, what were the other three?

Failure to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia is a mistake

Assault on key Yemeni port would endanger 300,000 children and ‘choke off’ aid for millions more: UNICEF chief

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

Independent rights experts sound alarm at Iran protest crackdown, internet blackout

Indian cities are running out of water

EU agricultural production no more a self-sufficiency anchor

ECB offers cheaper money despite reactions from Germany

Health equity and accessibility for migrants is a peremptory demand

5 ways to swim, not sink, as part of a ‘liquid workforce’

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: UNESCO ready to help after Notre Dame fire, and updates on Libya, Nicaragua, and the Cyclone Idai response

The European giant tourism sector in constant growth

Eurostat overturns Commission’s assessment of the economy

Why David Cameron’s large victory in UK elections will not pursue a ‘Brexit’

On the detention of children in the United States of America

Is a deal over EU budget possible today?

The Irish Presidency bullies the Parliament over EU budget

‘Forgotten crisis’ in Cameroon, with attacks on the rise, millions in need of ‘lifesaving assistance’

A shortened EU Summit admits failures, makes risky promises

Extra mild ECB tapering of QE and zero interest rates keep euro low

Seaweed straws and loose-leaf tea: 6 ways to reduce plastic waste

There’s a global learning crisis and it’s leaving millions without basic skills

Turkey’s Erdogan provokes the US and the EU by serving jihadists and trading on refugees

Appreciation of euro to continue

We have to fight for a fairer tech industry for women

Marking Sir Brian Urquhart’s 100th birthday, UN honours life-long servant of ‘we the peoples’

The vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion spreads fast engulfing more children

This graphene battery can recharge itself to provide unlimited clean energy

German opposition win in Lower Saxony felt all over Europe

Commission provides 20 cities with funding for innovative security, digital, environmental and inclusion projects

What does reimagining our energy system look like?

EU continues targeting on Chinese steel imports instead of the revival of its own economy

Poverty data never tells the whole story

Final turnout data for 2019 European elections announced

IMF’s Lagarde to Peoples of the world: You have to work more for the banks!

Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea for 2019

More than half a million Rohingya in Bangladesh get ID cards for first time: UN refugee agency

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s