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Poland: Rule of law debate turns confrontational

(B2) The Polish Prime Minister had asked to be able to speak at the plenary session in Strasbourg. It is not certain that the explanation served his cause. Positions have become more radical. The European Commission has set limits. With the support of a majority of MEPs. The Christian Democrats of the EPP are not the least virulent... Atmosphere

The stoic Prime Minister listens (or dreams) during the debate unfolding around him (PE/B2)

An overflowing debate

« The rule of law crisis in Poland and the rule of EU law ". This was the title of the debate scheduled for Tuesday (October 20) morning. It was supposed to last the morning, but it largely overflowed.

45 minutes of Polish soliloquy

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (PIS/ECR) was to speak for five minutes. He took 40 more! A " sign of disrespect » which will be reproached to him. His reply " don't bother me ! to the chairman of the meeting who tried several times to get him to conclude will be repeated in a loop to exhaust him even more...

The crowd at the desk

Nearly a hundred deputies, including many Poles, succeeded each other at the desk, a few meters from the Prime Minister, seated as tradition dictates in the second row. Some look at him directly, pointing to him or seeking his gaze. The Prime Minister, his back stiff, remains stoic. He does not take refuge on a laptop or in notes. He listens. The sanitary mask covering his mouth and nose accentuates his look. The tapping of a finger on the table will be the only visible sign of annoyance.

An inflexible Pole

Mateusz Morawiecki took up the argument of the letter sent to the leaders of the 26 other Member States of the Union and presidents of the three institutions (European Council, European Commission and European Parliament), developed in a seven-point plan... The Pole puts caveat: all States can in turn be called into question, none is irreproachable. He is careful to repeat that Poland claims " its place in the European Union and his desire to stay there ". He refutes the false accounts of a Polexit or the alleged breach of the rule of law ».

An unacceptable blackmail

Better, he attacks, judging " unacceptable to see an expansion of skills through the practice of the fait accompli ". He denounces the financial blackmail "," this language of threats and coercion ". He persists, " we have no doubts about the primacy of European law in its competences delegated by the Member States, but the Polish court wonders if the monopoly of the Court of Justice of the EU in the definition of factual limits is the right solution . " For him, " the Member States are the guarantors of the Treaties “, thus denying the passage to the European Commission to play this role.

Arrow exchanges on the substance... and the form

This debate was the ninth involving Poland since the beginning of the mandate. Parliamentary ranks have closed to demand that the European Commission now take action.

Weber as a relentless prosecutor

Manfred Weber, the newly re-elected leader of the EPP, the largest group in the European Parliament and home to the Civic Platform (PO), the enemy brother of the PiS (both from Solidarnosc), sets the tone. " The Polish government wants to put an end to the independence of justice internally. That is the question! (...) Thanks to the Poles who took to the streets, hundreds of thousands who defended another face of Poland. They are true patriots! » The German says: « You weaken the EU. You sow discord. And Putin will rejoice. Your policy helps the Russians because they have everything to gain from a weakened Europe. So stop! ».

The inaction of the European Council in question

The last banderilla is this time aimed at the other Member States: “ An action for failure to act should be discussed with the Council. Our heads of government are speaking good words. But we need a Council that acts when we have a State that does not respect European Union law ". The European Parliament demands that the European Commission reject Poland's recovery plan, and finally launch the conditionality mechanism linking the budget and respect for the rule of law, summarizes the Dutchman Malik Azmani, for the centrist group Renew. " No more dithering! »

The European Commission ready to act

The President of the European Commission takes her turn at the podium. " Strongly Concerned " and " regretting This situation, Ursula von der Leyen limits herself to the factual. From the outset, she places herself in her role of " Guardian of the Treaties ». " This is the first time that a national court has ruled that the European treaties are incompatible with the national Constitution ". This stop undermines the protection of judicial independence as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Treaty. Encouraged to strike hard by the deputies, von der Leyen was more determined when she spoke again after the conclusion of the Polish Prime Minister. In passing, she mocks the maneuvers of the Prime Minister: “ Don't try to distract, to remove yourself from the discussion ».

The next steps

To parliamentarians, the head of the European executive promises to apply all the conditionality provided for in the multiannual budgetary framework. " The rules for the recovery fund are clear. [...] These investments are linked to reforms that must respond to country-specific recommendations, and those for Poland provide for the restoration of the independence of the judiciary, and therefore the abolition of the disciplinary regime against judges and the restoration posts of dismissed judges. This is the planned plan and that we are implementing ". And to ensure, in the face of criticism of the slowness of the Commission: " we have never lost a rule of law proceeding and we will continue ».

Parliament in close ranks (or almost)

« I am proud of all the colleagues who have stood up in defense of the rule of law! » relieves ultimately German environmentalist Ska Keller. This must be verified in the votes of the resolution submitted to the vote this Thursday (October 21). The divide is clear on the other hand, and without surprise, with the very right part of the hemicycle, namely the ECR (conservative) groups - where the PiS (Law & Justice) sits - and ID (Identity & Democracy) - inhabitant the National Rally for example. Two of its French representatives (Jérôme Rivière and Nicolas Bay) will even take the trouble to go and greet the Pole after the debate. They will be almost the only ones. The other apparent divide relates to an east/west opposition... What sums up the Slovak Milan Uhrik (Not registered): “ the rule of law is only a tool of control, to push through a liberal agenda. Poland has our full support to maintain its sovereignty. Don't provoke Central Europe ».

(Emmanuelle Stoesser)

Emmanuelle Stroesser

A journalist for magazines and the press, Emmanuelle specializes in humanitarian issues, development, asylum and migration and human rights.

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