The Belgian and Polish Prime Ministers, October 1, 2020 in Brussels @BelgaImage
By questioning the rule of European law, Poland has likely crossed a red line for many governments on the continent, including the Belgian one. For Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, the Warsaw decision represents neither more nor less “a direct threat to our prosperity and security, also in BelgiumAs he said on Tuesday. And he is not the only one to express his dissatisfaction. The condemnations are increasing and Belgium is now calling, like others, to action.
Sophie Wilmès closes
This is evidenced by the position of Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès, who reacted on behalf of the entire Benelux to the decision of the Polish Constitutional Court on the primacy of European law. For her, “the opening of an infringement procedure in this case is obvious, but insufficiently. We therefore also owe it to the Commission to make use, where appropriate, of the rule of law conditionality regulation as early as possible and to consider additional measures to address the risks inherent in the deterioration of the rule of law. ‘Rule of law“. By calling for a reaction in this way, Sophie Wilmès thus joins the calls for a suspension of the payment of European funds to countries guilty of serious abuses on the rule of law. When could this be done? It is not specified. The goal is above all to show the surrounding discontent.
A week ago, Belgium had already joined a dozen countries (including France and Germany) to support the European institutions facing the actions of Poland and Hungary. The latter two managed to initiate it to prevent the European Union from resorting to the famous sanction on suspending or reducing the payment of European funds in the event of violations of the principles of the State.
Alexander De Croo wants an explanation
A meeting is to take place this Thursday and Friday at the European Council and if the Polish subject was not included in the meeting, Belgium and other countries will ensure that it is discussed. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed this again yesterday by asking his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, to explain his plans for the future, in view of the decision of the Constitutional Court. “How will the Polish government implement this judgment, and what does it mean for its commitments and cooperation within the Union?Asks Alexander De Croo.
He is worried about a questioning which “will feel through our cooperation in the internal market and in the Schengen area, through our four fundamental freedoms and therefore the very functioning of the Union“. Proof of his firmness, he does not hesitate to assert that “in Poland, judicial independence is under tremendous pressure“. “It is above all problematic for the citizens of this country, for the respect of their fundamental rights, but it is also problematic for our many companies active in Poland. Because the European internal market depends on the proper application of the rules common to all the countries that are part of it, and Belgium is one of the EU countries which have the most to gain from a well-functioning internal market.“.
The whole of the meeting of tomorrow and the day after will therefore temper the two camps, to avoid a slippage. It will probably be a question of recalling the importance of European law, guarantor of fundamental freedoms, and letting Poland express itself. The latter could very well go backwards, but this provocation takes on the appearance of escalation in the long term no matter what. As if, step by step, the Polish government were trying to find out how far it can push its euroscepticism. We must not forget that Poland is the biggest beneficiary of European structured funds. That too weighs in the balance.