Tensions between Poland and the EU are growing dramatically. At the Economic Forum in Karpacz, the most important economic conference in the region with the nickname “Polish Davos”, Vice-President Ryszard Terlecki indicated the possibility of a Polexit: Poland’s exit from the EU.
“If things continue as they are now, we have to find drastic solutions,” said Terlecki. “The British have shown that they do not like the dictatorship of the Brussels bureaucracy, have turned away and left. We don’t want to quit. We are very enthusiastic about membership in the EU. But we cannot allow ourselves to be driven into something that restricts our freedom and our development. “
Brussels has initiated infringement proceedings against Warsaw and applied to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg to impose daily fines in order to force the national-conservative PiS government to bow to the ECJ’s rulings on the illegality of parts of the Polish judicial reform. The proceedings of the Disciplinary Body against judges who are unpopular to the government are to come to an end.
The Commission is building on financial pressure
The Commission, which is also noticeable, has approved the spending plans for the upswing after the Corona recession in almost all EU countries, but not Poland. The approval is a prerequisite for the billions in funds from Brussels. Poland submitted the application in May. As a rule, the process takes two months.
Terlecki’s words caused a stir. He is a close confidante of the PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who gives the government the direction. Many speculate that Terlecki is expressing what Kaczynski thinks: He is threatening a Polexit if the EU intensifies the conflicts with Poland with increasing severity. From the PiS point of view, she assumes rights that she does not have under the European Treaties.
Is the exit a real scenario or just a threat as an angry response to growing pressure from Brussels?
Opposition leader Tusk warns: The game can slip away from the PiS
The day after, there is great excitement in Poland. The opposition is driving the issue. Former EU Council President Donald Tusk, who returned to Poland to take over the leadership of the opposition, warned on Friday that Poland could no longer be an EU member “faster than anyone seems” if the current campaign by the national conservative ruling party PiS slip out of your hands.
Borys Budka, group leader of the Civic Platform PO, was outraged: “For six years the rulers have been insulting the EU. The PiS introduces illegal changes in the media and the judiciary. They are gradually leading Poland out of the EU. And now many are surprised that Terlecki speaks of the Polexit? ”
Government denies: Polexit a media invention
The government camp now pretends that nothing has happened. “There will be no exit of Poland from the EU,” emphasizes government spokesman Piotr Müller. Terlecki claims that the alleged polexit and the excitement about it were a malicious “invention of the opposition and the TV station tvn24” as their mouthpiece.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is ready to compromise: “We will dispel all doubts and not create unnecessary tension.”
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Some in the right-wing camp are eager to pick up on the keyword Polexit, but they tend to be outsiders. PiS MP Marek Suski said in Radom: “Poland fought the German occupiers in World War II. It fought the Soviet occupiers. We will also fight the Brussels occupiers. ”
His PiS colleague Janusz Kowalski tweeted: “It’s time to weigh up whether the British way is better for Poland.”
The comparison with Brexit is poor
Radoslaw Sikorski, former Foreign Minister of the PO government and now MEP warns: “For God’s sake don’t threaten a Polexit!” Unlike the UK, an exit would be devastating for Poland. The United Kingdom is an island, the British have the financial metropolis of London, the pound sterling, the Beatles, Shakespeare and nuclear weapons. You will be fine on your own. After leaving, Poland would again be a buffer between Germany and Russia.
Taking into account the polls in Poland and the financial benefits of EU membership, a Polexit as a political project is unlikely. In the Eurobarometers, which ask about citizens’ approval of the EU, Poland regularly ranks among the top group.
As by far the largest state among the new members in the east and south-east that joined in 2004, Poland benefits greatly from the resources of the regional, structural and cohesion funds as well as agricultural subsidies. How does the PiS intend to explain to the farmers, a core electorate, that they should forego the money from Brussels?
Terlecki’s goal: an EU in which even skeptics feel comfortable
Terlecki has distracted from the real goal with his reference to Brexit. The focus of his statement in Karpacz was: “We have to think about how we can best work to ensure that we all feel comfortable in the EU and that the EU remains acceptable to everyone.” Then the call for drastic solutions fell.
Poland does not feel alone. In several EU states, citizens and politicians complain that Brussels institutions are pursuing greater integration without the political mandate of the member states and claiming competencies that they do not have under the treaties.
Poland complains that Brussels intervenes in the judiciary even though it is not communitized. Michel Barnier, former EU Commissioner and now French presidential candidate, criticizes a dictation on migration issues. The Federal Constitutional Court criticizes violations of competencies in financial policy.