Poland’s ruling party is taking a defiant stand against the European Union, refusing to back down despite the threat of EU sanctions. Owing to these raging tensions, some pundits have opined that the world may experience Polexit after Brexit. The weighty poser; is what becomes of the EU if Poland exits the Union?
Brussels is threatening to strip away Poland’s right to vote on EU matters, unless the ruling party drops controversial plans to exert more control over the judiciary.
Last week EU Commission President Jean–Claude Juncker warned that he was prepared to impose the voting ban through Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty.
He said: “If the Polish government goes ahead with undermining the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland, we will have no other choice than to trigger Article 7.”
But Professor Piotr Wawrzyk, of the University of Warsaw, has argued that the EU is issuing empty threats and would not follow through on sanctions.
Last week he said: “There will be no sanctions, those are just scare tactics. The commissioner himself cannot instigate any sanctions.
“This is not cooperation, only them saying ‘we are bigger and smarter, better listen to us and do as we say’.”
Professor Wawrzyk told Express.co.uk that Poland’s chances of leaving the EU are minimal and it would only quit if it was forced to adopt the euro.
He said: “The only way I would see Poland consider leaving, is if the EU continued to push its politics and tried to enforce the Eurozone on the country.”
Despite the Law and Justice party getting into a fight with EU bosses, it does not advocate taking Poland out of the EU.
“The Law and Justice Party is not an Eurosceptic party, it is a Euro-realistic party,” Professor Wawrzyk said.
“Even among its voters, the majority would not see Poland leave the EU.
“There are of course some fringe anti-EU politicians in Poland, such as [MEP] Janusz Korwin Mikke, but they only represent one to two per cent of the population.”
The professor underlined the fact that Poland is one of the most EU-friendly countries within the European Union.
Poland’s entry to the EU was approved by a strong 77.6 per cent of the population in its 2003 referendum.
European Council President’s reaction
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, says he is worried that his home country of Poland could be moving toward leaving the European Union.
Tusk’s remarks on August 3 came amid continuing conflict between the EU and Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) over its attempt to overhaul the domestic justice system and the country’s extensive logging operations in Europe’s last primeval forest.
The Polish government has rejected EU criticism of both actions and has refused to adhere to a European Court of Justice order that it stop the logging.
“It seems to me like a prelude to an announcement that Poland does not need the European Union. I am afraid we are closer than further to that moment,” Tusk told reporters.
Tusk made the remarks after undergoing eight hours of questioning by Warsaw prosecutors who are investigating the 2010 crash of a Polish aircraft in Smolensk, Russia, that killed Poland’s then-president and 95 others.
PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has accused Tusk, who was prime minister at the time, and his liberal Civic Platform (PO) party of being responsible for the crash that claimed the life of his twin brother, the late President Lech Kaczynski.
Kaczynski has long claimed that the air crash was not an accident and has accused Tusk of “moral responsibility” for the death of his brother.
Polish and Russian investigators blamed pilot error, bad weather, and poor air-traffic control for the accident.
Tusk told reporters he “had no doubt” he was being targeted by his archrival in the right-wing, populist PiS government before the questioning by Polish prosecutors.
EU leaders on March 9 confirmed Tusk for his second term as the president of the European Council, despite objections from the Polish government.
COULD POLAND BE KICKED OUT OF THE EU?
He said: “I do not think any Polish government in the upcoming years would consider leaving the EU.”
He also added that all recent polls and predictions suggest that PiS will hold onto power in the next elections.
Professor Wawrzyk went on to say that no matter how strong Eurosceptic parties may be, they will always struggle to have an impact.
“Certainly, Eurosceptic parties are strong in parts of Europe, but they are surrounded by a ‘sanitary cordon’,” he said.
“Even if they do get to power, they struggle to form a majority government. Pepe Grillo, Holland and Denmark are a good example of that.”
Would the people of Poland vote to leave the EU?
The outbreak of the migrant crisis in 2015 has exacerbated the tensions between Poland and the EU.
A shocking poll ran by Polityka.pl found that 56.5 per cent of those polled were prepared to loose EU funding rather than take in migrants from Muslim countries.
In total, 48.6 per cent said they would definitely support this trade-off if push came to shove. Only 3.1 per cent were undecided, and 40.4 per cent said no.
Asked if they would rather leave the EU or take in migrants, 51.2 per cent said they would rather go and out of that 33.4 per cent said that they would definitely leave.
Professor Wawrzyk believes that Poland is one of the most EU-friendly nations in Europe
But only 37.6 per cent said they would stay.
Poland refused to take in migrants during the height of the crisis, with Prime Minster Beata Szydło saying: “Poland cannot accept refugees.”
Despite the migrant issues, the majority of the population appears to want to remain within the structures of the European Union.
A poll for Rzezcpospolita in March, overwhelmingly found that 78 per cent of those questioned supported remaining, as opposed to only 12 per cent of those who wished to leave.
Another CBOS poll in April found that a staggering 88 per cent of the population supports the EU – the highest results since 2014. Only eight per cent supported leaving.