Poland vs the European Commission?

It seems that Poland-the European Commission relations are somehow escalating. Simply it seems that both sides views on what is going on in Poland are pretty different. Do you think they can find some common ground or we should be probably prepared for even more problems in Poland-EC relations? Read few comments.

Aleks Szczerbiak, Professor of Politics and Contemporary European Studies, University of Sussex

I think that tensions between the Polish government and EU institutions will continue for some time. The government’s domestic opponents argue that its recent reforms of Poland’s constitutional tribunal, and civil service and media laws, undermine democracy by emasculating and politicizing what should be independent institutions. This is a charge that the government and its supporters deny vigorously – claiming that they its predecessor initiated the constitutional crisis, and that its civil service and public media reforms are normal state appointments aimed at restoring pluralism and balance. However, the opposition’s narrative has been picked up by large sections of the EU political establishment and Western opinion-forming media (and many Polish citizens), with whom government’s opponents enjoy strong links and many of whom share their dislike of Law and Justice.

So the political temperature will remain high in Poland for the foreseeable future and tensions between Warsaw and Brussels will rumble on, although it is unclear just how the EU institutions will be prepared to push the issue beyond rhetorical expressions of concern to concrete action.

Konrad Hyży, Senior Analyst at Demagog.org.pl

The Poland-EC relations are indeed getting relatively tense, although I wouldn’t agree that anything serious can be born from this pressure. At the moment PiS government is trying to push its legislative offensive which has caused loads of controversies. For instance, the media law novelisation has ousted electing the heads of public media CEOs by organising competitions and introduced the procedure of.. appointment. Virtually, the heads of TV and Radio are basically appointed by the government. That is one of the few examples of controversial methods presented by Szydło’s government.

As for the FM Waszczykowski’s and Commissioner Timmermans debate, this very likely will remain an episode of the media shout-out. Imposing any EU procedure that will indicate the Polish system’s unreliability is far from the current state of game. The European Parliament will roughly discuss the situation in Poland on 13th January, although this is not even the first step of the procedure (and we are not even talking about the procedure introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, but the one presented in March 2014- about the protection of the Rule of Law).

In order to find out more about the technical conditions that the European Commission needs to boost before launching it, please have a look at the official document. Basically, there are three stages and all of them are based on the political and legal dialog between the Commission and the Member State.

What can we expect in the nearest future? The current situation helps PiS government to uphold its image as an anti-establishment and anti-EU-leftist narration one. Timmermans can seek to gain certain profits, mostly in the field of PR as well. My opinion is that even though the legal way is super-unlikely to happen, there’s a lots of harm done to Poland’s accountability, in the eyes of the journalists and the regular citizens. Politics will stay the same, as apart from the aggressive rhetorics, there are no changes from the previous government’s EU policy.

Michael Szporer, Professor of Communications, Arts, and Humanities, University of Maryland University College
EU should be able withstand a dab of political incorrectness by Poland’s chief diplomat Witold Waszczykowski. The “spicy” remarks to the tabloid Bild are not entirely unprecedented, when one recalls the prickly remarks about the Nord Stream pipeline by his predecessor, and Germany, and Europe, survived.

These remarks may not serve the minister well with the generational divide, but let us not make too much of the sensitivities of the millennials who are also not happy with Brussels bureaucracy.

Still making much of a mangled metaphor that jumbles “left-wing communism and infantile disorder” bashing with neo-“sanacja” [heeling] suggests to me at least that the roots of conservative PiS are not all that conservative. In a word, as a vegan and a cyclist, I wouldn’t feel all that threatened.

Whether all this is wise is another story, but Poland is not slipping into a dictatorship–certainly not into Putinism. I would worry more about economic instability generated by the hype, one overreaction generating another. In the end Poland will have to sort itself out, and EU would be wise to let it.



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