Poland clashes at EU summit despite energy crisis – .

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Poland clashes at EU summit despite energy crisis – .


Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (left) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the European Council building in Brussels on October 21, 2021,
YVES HERMAN | AFP | Getty Images
BRUSSELS, Belgium – The ongoing clash between Poland and the European Union is expected to dominate a Brussels summit this week.
EU leaders who arrived in the Belgian capital on Thursday could not escape questions about the tense relations between Warsaw and Brussels, and the subject was in fact added to the agenda at the last minute.

“We are very worried,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Thursday of the escalating quarrel with Poland.

The Eastern European country and the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, have clashed for several years over the implementation of the rule of law, but their differences have intensified in the beginning of the month after Poland’s highest court declared parts of EU law in conflict with the Polish constitution.

The decision ultimately calls into question the supremacy of European law and the very foundations of the political and economic group.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, often at odds with Brussels itself, said he agreed with the decision. “What is happening here is that the European institutions regularly circumvent the rights of national parliaments and governments,” Orban said on Thursday.

” Poland ? Best country in Europe – there is no need to have a sanction, it’s ridiculous, ”Orban also said of a potential action Brussels could take against Warsaw.

The European Union was built on the principle that the Member States follow a common regulation, even if they retain the last word in certain policy areas. This means, for example, that an EU country is free to decide its own fiscal policy, but is supposed to have a government debt and deficit in line with EU rules.

Earlier this week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen engaged in a heated discussion on the issue. Morawiecki said his country would not be intimidated and that the highest law in Poland was its constitution. On the other hand, von der Leyen said his team could take action.

“We cannot and will not allow our shared values ​​to be endangered. The Commission will act, ”she said in Strasbourg, France.

Energy crisis

All of this comes at a time when Europe is grappling with higher energy costs – an issue that in the short term could derail economic recovery and, in the long run, affect its climate ambitions.
Upon arriving in Brussels, Orban also challenged the EU’s climate targets. “What is Timmermans [Europe’s climate chief] and others proposed will kill the middle class of Europe, ”he said.
The commission and some EU countries believe that they must accelerate the transition to a climate neutral economy and invest more in renewable energies. But for Hungary, and especially Poland, they see a rapid transition as a risk to their economies given the role that coal still plays in these countries.

Merkel’s last summit

In this context, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing to say goodbye to European politics.

After 16 years in power, she is expected to be replaced by Olaf Scholz, a member of the Socialist Party who served as the country’s finance minister. Thursday and Friday’s summit in Brussels will be Merkel’s 107th such gathering.

When asked if he was going to miss Merkel’s presence, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković replied: “Absolutely”. He told CNBC that Merkel is not only the German leader, but also a European and global leader.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told CNBC that Merkel is by nature a consensus builder and acknowledged how key she played a key role in keeping Greece in the eurozone during the height of the sovereign debt crisis.

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