By: Jeremy Lee, CIB East & South Europe Desk
Analytical Question: Will Relations Between Poland and the European Union Worsen in 2017?
The European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, is threatening legal action against Poland if it continues to refuse to accommodate asylum seekers under the European Union’s migration plan (European Commission 2017). Poland is unlikely to change its position on accepting more migrants. Warsaw’s stance may prompt legal action from the European Union, which will only worsen an already declining relationship between the two.
Over 1.6 million refugees crossed into the European Union between 2014 and 2016, leading to dispute as to how to deal with the migrant crisis. The European Union responded with a migration plan, which aimed to relocate 160,000 refugees throughout European Union member states. Poland reluctantly agreed to the migration plan in September of 2015, but has recently refused to take in any migrants (Osborne 2017). The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, has led the charge against migrant quotas and other efforts to relocate asylum seekers. Duda is a member of the Law and Justice Party (PiS), who formed the government of Poland in 2015 after being elected on a platform of Euroscepticism and anti-relocation for immigrants (Smith 2015).
Poland’s refusal to relocate any more refugees may prompt the European Commission to take legal action against the Eastern European country. The European Commission released a statement on Wednesday stating that “if member states do not increase their relocations soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers for those who have not complied” (European Commission 2017). Speaking on the same topic, the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło reiterated last week that “the Polish government, under my leadership, from the moment we took responsibility for Poland, said it will not accept this resolution as we consider it bad for Europe” (Kettley 2017). It does not seem that either side is ready to back down from its position, which may trigger a court case. A court case will not resolve the issue any time soon and will most likely be a prolonged affair.
The statement made by the European Commission was prompted by the required progress reports that European Union member states are obligated to submit, assessing their actions relating to the relocation and resettlement schemes. The European Commission does not believe Poland has kept up with its obligation to help relocate refugees, and is urging Poland to follow through with the migration plan before legal action is taken (European Commission 2017). This is important because it adds on to a long list of recent disputes between the European Union and Poland that have not been settled. The foremost such dispute is the rule of law framework that has been placed on Poland by the European Union (European Commission, 2016). It was prompted by various controversial amendments Poland placed on its constitutional court, which included the replacement of independent judges with others who are said to have pro-government leanings. The rule of law framework included an initial assessment into the situation and recommendations given to Poland that the European Union wants enacted. Essentially, the European Union recommended that Poland rescind the amendments it made toward its constitutional court (Rankin, 2017). However, Poland has yet to follow through with any of the recommendations.
The migration plan laid out by the European Union has been plagued by controversy since its inception. Any countries, including Poland, who do not follow the recommendations given to them by the European Union may face sanctions, fines, and legal action among other things. Poland, is acting against to what the desires of the European Union, which is only worsening relations between the two. Given that most of the information researched came directly from the European Commission’s statement and the news sources facts matched, the relevant reports I researched can be evaluated as highly trusted and can be considered fairly unbiased. Consequently, these developments have only strengthened my current analytical forecast. It can be stated with high confidence that relations between Poland and the European Union will continue to worsen in 2017.
European Commission. “Relocation and Resettlement: Steady progress made but more efforts needed to meet targets” European Commission Press Release Database, 12 Apr. 2017. Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.
European Commission. “Rule of Law: Commission discusses latest developments and issues complementary Recommendation to Poland” European Commission Press Release Database, 21 Dec. 2016. Accessed 29 April. 2017.
Kettley, Sebastian. “Poland blasts EU over migrant crisis quotas: ‘We will resist blackmail and pressure’” The Express, 5 Apr. 2017. Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.
Osborne, Simon. “See EU in court! Brussels warns Hungary or Poland ‘take in asylum-seekers or be SUED’” The Express, 12 Apr. 2017. Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.
Rankin, Jennifer. “Brussels launches unprecedented EU inquiry into rule of law in Poland.” The Guardian, 13 Jan. 2016. Accessed 20 Mar. 2017.
Smith, Alex. “Poland lurches to right with the election of Law and Justice Party” The Guardian, 26 Oct. 2015. Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.