Von der Leyen wants to go to Poland

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“Nobody is perfect”: After your choice of the new Commission boss suggests the topic of the rule of law over Poland in conciliatory tones. New style or return for the votes of the right-wing nationalist PiS party?

Understanding for the countries of Eastern Europe: the Commission-designate head of the Leyen

Actually, the EU Commission, Poland an Ultimatum. For two months, until then, had to revise the Polish government, certain provisions in the judiciary. These were in line with the principle of the rule of law in the EU not compatible. Specifically, it is about the fact that Polish judges threaten disciplinary procedure, you should obtain to support their case-law, an assessment of the European court of justice (ECJ) – in fact, an inalienable right in the EU treaties. Nothing should happen, will turn on, the EU Commission, for its part, the ECJ against Poland to proceed.

These threats came on Wednesday from Brussels. Two days later, it sounds from Berlin, clearly conciliatory. The soon to be most important woman in the EU, the candidate for Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, advertises in an Interview with the “süddeutsche Zeitung” to understanding with Eastern European States such as Poland. “We all need to learn that full rule of law is always our goal, but no one is perfect,” said von der Leyen.

Dialogue instead of punishment

Since 2017, the EU carries out a so-called infringement procedure against Poland. The EU Commission due to a judicial reform of the law of the national government, the rule of law in danger. In the final analysis, the country could lose its voting rights in the EU. Since then, Warsaw and Brussels are on a collision course. “We need a more objective debate,” warns von der Leyen in an Interview with the “SZ”. In order to strikes a new tone in dealing with Poland: dialogue and understanding rather than threats and punishments.

Protests against the Polish judicial reform in Wroclaw in July 2017

Milan Nič, acting head of Robert Bosch center for Central and Eastern Europe, agrees in the DW-interview: “of Course we must expect all member States to respect the rule of law. But the debate, Poland was sometimes overheated already.” Even if it was not the content of an opinion, would have to talk to both sides with respect to each other.

“If you are looking for the conversation, not the sharpest threat to the beginning,” says Ursula von der Leyen. In order to give an answer to a long-lasting debate within the EU. The payment of EU funds could be tied to the Situation of the rule of law, suggested that the previous Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker. For von der Leyen, this is just “the very last resort after many stages that come before”.

Politicians in Poland react differently to the Leyens statements, depending on whether they are part of the government or the Opposition. “It’s a Chance for a compensation”, said Vice-foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski. “In my opinion, the EU should build on this Commission and other European institutions in the Polish society.” Bogdan Borusewicz is different. “The statements of the wife of the Leyen worry me a little,” says the politician from the opposition party “civic platform” of the DW. “I have a hunch that it was von der Leyen to make a Deal.” However, the politician stressed that it was their right to treat all countries in the EU.

Poland’s foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski looks of the Leyens election as a “Chance”

“Need a new tool”

The hard pace of the Commission has been less successful. Only the European court of justice could move to Poland once to relent: in 2017, the ECJ stopped a law of the Polish government, which introduced a new age limit for judges. Thus, the critic, and wanted to rid the government of disagreeable critics of the system. Warsaw was the dismissed judges back to their jobs return. “It is the beauty of Europe shows that this neutral Institution is respected by all member States,” says von der Leyen, the ECJ and against confrontational penalties and for new solutions.

For Eastern Europe expert Milan Nič, this is not a new proposal: “you are not reinventing the wheel.” Von der Leyen discussions on the attack, only that there is in Brussels for at least a year. “The mechanism of the infringement procedure was a never-before-tested tool,” explains Nič. “We have tried it and are pushed to the limits. Therefore, we need something New.”

Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban and the Chairman of the Polish PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski

Not fully accepted

The problems between the EU and countries such as Poland, were also deeper. “In Europe there are cracks. Between the North and the South from a rather economic reasons, but also between the East and the West, where they tend to have an emotional component.” To be In the Eastern European countries rule in the case of many the feeling from the other EU members, “not fully accepted”.

A feeling that, after Milan Ničs opinion in 2004, set. At that time, the EU took in ten new countries into the community, including Poland and Hungary. “In Germany, is always heard more often that this great expansion was much too fast. The companies of the new members were part of completely different than in the Rest of Europe.” Then came the migration crisis in the year 2015. “It’s a division of Europe, which has poisoned the political debate was,” says Nič. Stereotypes and negative images would be determined after 2015.

Milan Nič, expert for the EU, Eastern Europe and the Balkans

“If we carry on the debate as sharp as we run, the also to countries and Nations of the world believe that they were meant to be in the Whole, where individual deficits are to be criticized,” says von der Leyen in the “SZ”. With a monitoring system for the rule of law for all the member States should be avoided, that “not to give the impression that a part of Europe considered, in principle, the other critical.”

In the debt of Poland?

Ursula von der Leyens approaches bring a fresh Wind to Brussels. But the context of your choice for the President of the Commission, makes your statements seem suspect. Finally, the former German Minister of defence, received in the Parlamentnur nine votes more than she needed. The rash also the votes of the right-wing nationalist PiS party of Poland gave in. Thanks von der Leyen, now with a softer rate compared to Warsaw?

Tight result, With a nine-vote majority in the EU Parliament elected by the Leyen, to the new President of the Commission

“Today’s political Situation from the Polish perspective-effectively,” said Poland’s foreign Minister Szynkowski after the election. Von der Leyen had practically been directly elected with a PiS-votes. The government in Poland, looks at the longer lever. Milan Nič believes, however, that von der Leyen is now policy within the meaning of Poland will make. Their only close win they would also be under pressure from the socialists and the liberals in Parliament. There, you’ll need to due to a lack of majorities of the two major parties for each Initiative with other groups to work together. “This is the Paradox: Precisely because of the votes from Poland will continue to insist on the rule of law.”

Cooperation: Magdalena Gwozdz