Speaking at a summit of EU leaders in Strasbourg on Thursday, Germany’s soon-to-be former Chancellor, Angela Merkel, championed unity and compromise as other European leaders demanded Poland be punished for its moves to prioritize national law over that of the EU.
The veteran leader warned that a drawn-out political and legal dispute would not benefit anyone, especially with the bloc attempting to emerge from the pandemic and its associated economic consequences.
While many have grown increasingly frustrated at failed attempts to convince Warsaw to change tack, Merkel warned against isolating Poland.
“We must find ways and possibilities to come together again on this, because a cascade of legal disputes before the European Court of Justice is not a solution,” Merkel said.
While stating that “the rule of law is at the core of the European Union,” she contended that a Polexit would not be a positive outcome for the EU or Germany.
“Germany does not want to have a Polexit. Poland’s place is in the middle of Europe,” Merkel stated according to a senior diplomatic source, adding that isolating Warsaw would not fix the problem.
Merkel’s call for compromise was not universally heeded. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo stated that if Poland wanted the benefits of being in the EU “club” then they needed to respect the club rules.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was difficult to see how EU funding could continue to be channeled to Poland. “We have to be tough,” he added.
France was equally demanding, with French President Emmanuel Macron urging Poland to find a solution in line with the EU principles.
Also on Thursday, David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, said the lawmakers’ chamber would “sue” the commission president if she failed to uphold their demands to withhold EU funds from Poland.
For now, the European Commission has barred Poland from tapping the 36 billion euros of grants and loans destined for Warsaw to help its economy recover from the pandemic.
Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice party have frequently been at loggerheads with the EU, notably on the rule of law as well as LGBTQ rights.
Earlier this month, a Warsaw court ruled that areas of the EU treaties are incompatible with Poland’s laws and that national laws should take precedence, backing a move by its Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the challenge to EU law’s supremacy must be punished.
Header: Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the second day of the EU leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium, October 22, 2021 © John Thys/Pool/via REUTERS