Expert: EU out of order on rule of law

Prof. Tomasz Grosse, a specialist in EU affairs from Warsaw University was Poland IN’s guest. We discussed with him the last EU summit which discussed the setting up of a EU recovery fund and the EU budget for the next seven years.

Poland objects to EC proposals on linking rule of law to EU budget

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See full interview here

A meeting of the European Council took place last Friday to discuss the setting up of a EU recovery fund in the wake of the pandemic crisis and to continue the ongoing discussions about the shape of the EU budget for the next seven year financing period (2021-2027). The meeting was not conclusive and the European Council is to meet again in July. That meeting is to take place in Brussels with the members physically present.

Proposed financial settlement good for Poland

Prof. Grosse regards the EU recovery fund and EU budget settlements that have been proposed as being good for Poland, even if the recovery fund is rightly regarded as an attempt to shift funds towards Southern Europe, the region that has been hit hardest by the pandemic. He does not think member states will allow for debt mutualisation as that would mean fiscal federalisation which takes key powers away from member states and their national parliaments.

EU funds would not be tied to rule of law compliance

The academic regards the rule of law action taken against Poland by the European Commission as being “in breach of EU treaties” as “judicial systems of member states are not the competence of the EU. Poland, according to prof. Grosse is applying solutions found in other EU states. He noted that in fact the German judicial system was more politicised than was Poland’s. This is why he felt that EU institutions were applying double standards towards Poland.

Prof. Grosse believes that since there are no transparent criteria for rule of law observance, no reference to it in EU treaties, EU fund distribution should not be tied to any notions of rule of law compliance. He feared that the issue would be used to bully smaller and weaker member states.

Poland’s European credentials sound

He was ready however to see the funds linked to the EU ‘Green Deal’. He felt that these funds should be used to help Central European countries to catch up with western states in terms of greening their economies.

The EU specialist did not feel that there was a contradiction in Poland arguing for a larger and more ambitious EU budget, and at the same time not necessarily wanting an ‘ever-closer union. He argued that” Poland’s stance on the EU budget proved its pro-European credentials and that it was responsive to the needs of other EU members.”

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