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This Wednesday, September 14, the President of the European Commission will deliver, as has been the annual practice since 2010, the “State of the Union Address”. Review of the past year and challenges to come are still on the menu. Ursula von der Leyen is eagerly awaited on the EU’s response to Poland, which in fact threatens the very foundations of the EU.
Digital, recovery, geopolitics, Covid and climate change are the ingredients planned for this Wednesday. But despite the importance these topics have for the EU, they could be overshadowed by the latest chapter “European way of life and European democracy”.
The fear comes from central Europe, and more particularly from Poland. The latter is once again in the news with the ban on media access along the border with Belarus. But this attack on press freedom is only one of the many points of contention with the European Commission.
Because the Polish government is attacking press freedom, but this is only the latest breach of the rule of law. Among the other files on the fire are in particular the famous zones without LGBT ideology, and especially the disciplinary chamber for judges.
The Commission has clashed for years with Hungary and Poland over respect for the rule of law and European values. But Ursula von der Leyen must “whistle the end of recess”, some believe. Because the Polish position now threatens the very foundations of the EU, with the challenge of the primacy of European law by the Constitutional Court.
We are also awaiting a new decision on September 22, and we hear here that we must quickly close the door in which Poland set foot, before it becomes contagious. A direct reference to Michel Barnier’s proposals for breaking free from European immigration rules.
The Commission has already asked the Court of Justice of the EU for financial sanctions, but it is expected at the turn to see how it intends to use the so-called conditionality tool, the one which allows to suspend the payment of funds from the European Union in the event of breach of the rule of law.