• Andrea Girard

Poland On A Collision Course With Europe

For some years now, several European countries, such as Viktor Orbán's Hungary and Poland led by Mateusz Morawiecki, have taken paths that are at odds with the values of human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. In recent years, Law and Justice, the far-right party that leads the Polish majority, has led Poland along increasingly reactionary positions, contrary to women's rights, the rights of the LGBT community, freedom of the press, and independence of the judiciary. These authoritarian drifts risk-taking many steps backward in countries whose rhetoric and actions could lead to thinking differently, depend heavily on the financial support of the European Union: support which, if lacking, would seriously jeopardize the economic achievements of recent years.

Poland, in particular, is the country that, so far, has received the most European funds: since its accession in 2004, the country has received as much as 124 billion euros. This, combined with the fact that 88% of Poles have expressed a desire to remain in the European Union, makes the possibility of an exit from the EU an unrealistic scenario.

The situation, however, shows no sign of being resolved. The Polish Constitutional Court persists in asserting the supremacy of Polish laws over European laws, which conflicts with the treaties governing the functioning of the EU: it is almost as if the Polish government, led by the extreme right-wing Law and Justice party, wants to benefit from EU funding and, at the same time, reject its values.

And what about the European Union? How has it decided to deal with the situation? For the moment, the only initiative has come from the European Court of Justice: until the body that limits the impartiality of judges is suspended, Poland will have to pay a fine of one million euros per day. For the rest, it has only been suggested by the European Commission to arrive at European funds conditional on compliance with Community rules.

Unfortunately, so far, the European Community has not been able to find a majority on which to build effective and more incisive interventions to counter the reactionary drifts of Poland and other countries belonging to the so-called "Visegrád Group". It is clear, however, the need to act decisively and promptly, in order not to leave room for positions like these that, if not opposed, could develop a greater following and threaten other countries, if not the very integrity of the European Union as we know it.

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