The World Today for November 08, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

Eastern Front

POLAND

Last month, the European Court of Justice ordered Poland to pay $1.2 million a day for failing to prevent political interference in its judicial system. As CNN reported, the Polish government under the control of the Law and Justice Party has enacted numerous laws that run counter to European Union rules. Poland, for example, has been fined almost $600,000 a day for refusing to close down a coal mine near the Czech and German borders.

Polish officials, meanwhile, are vowing to fight. The “Polish state cannot bow to lawlessness,” Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, a Euroskeptic member of the United Poland party that is part of the country’s coalition government, told Deutsche Welle. “Only the weak give in to pressure.”

Ziobro added that the government was already planning on making changes to the country’s supreme court that could satisfy the European Court of Justice’s demands, though those changes have yet to be finalized. As a result, the conflict has given rise to fears of a “Polexit,” or the former communist country leaving the 27-member EU.

European leaders appear to be disinclined to escalate a fight that could result in a second country leaving the EU after Britain’s departure, known as Brexit, early last year, argued the Financial Times. But the European Court of Justice’s decision has put Poland in a corner. Either the court has to blink and reverse itself or Polish politicians have to succumb to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

The EU has no mechanism to oust members. And the vast majority of Poles want to remain in the EU, the Conversation explained. Only if Poland requested an exit could it leave. As a result, a Polexit seems unlikely.

Speaking to the Associated Press, observers noted, however, that British leaders didn’t aim to take Britain out of the EU when they sought to renegotiate the country’s status in the bloc. Yet their actions led to a cascade of events that ended in a referendum. That vote led to the cutting of the country’s ties with the bloc. European officials, who misread British popular opinion, didn’t help the situation, either, as Spectator magazine wrote.

In the meantime, the EU has withheld more than $66 billion in coronavirus-related recovery funds from Poland, the Irish Times reported. That approach has forced Poland to change its domestic laws before. Local governments eliminated “LGBT-free zones,” for example, after the EU froze funding to local municipalities that created them.

In Europe, the center just doesn’t want to hold.

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