Poland is in dock over for presumed violation of democratic regulations. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed his regret at the entire situation. The Polish government had been asked to answer a series of questions concerning controversial and contradictory changes in the Polish judicial system. In fact, it was the first such time that a member of the European Union had been interrogated by democratic forces of EU itself. Unfortunately, Poland is likely to encounter more serious consequences should other EU members vote against them. Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission said: “We are in a new phase with a hearing, and the inclusion of member states is extremely important.”
The Deputy Head of the EU Commission Frans Timmermans claims that some progress has been achieved in the dispute between the EU Commission and the Polish government, but there are still issues to be resolved. They are related to problems with the independence of courts and a clear separation of powers. Law and Justice (PiS) wanted to paralyze the Polish Constitutional Court by making it dependent on PiS politicians and then pretending to withdraw from these proposals for two years. Such a scenario is not acceptable for Brussels. The Commission does not accept the illegal dismissal of Małgorzata Gersdorf, President of the Polish Supreme Court. At the moment, PiS is seeking only to find a compromise with Brussels. However, the invocation of Article 7 has taken PiS politicians by surprise as they expected a more moderate approach. The EU Commission has drawn conclusions from previous experiences with Hungary, and it is now acting more firmly. PiS finds itself in a difficult situation. Despite a cabinet re-shuffle, and a new prime minister, PiS has come under fire about the way it has handled the ongoing protest of disabled people in parliament; changes in the law on the Institute of National Remembrance; and high bonuses granted to members of its government.
Amongst young Europeans, Poles are known for valuing their history and tradition. Even though recognition of the advantages of being part of the EU is rising, they still feel that focusing on their own country and its heritage is most important. This is one of the conclusions from a survey undertaken by TUI of young people living in Europe, including Germany and Poland, aged 16-26. According to the survey, 46% of young Poles stated that they consider themselves to be Polish citizens, while 43% of them stated that they consider themselves to be primarily Polish and secondarily EU citizens. These results are quite different from those amongst other young Europeans, who do not identify nearly as strongly with their countries. What is interesting is that only 2% of surveyed young Polish people place an importance on being European above being Polish. Young Poles also show an optimistic approach towards their future. Almost 50% feel a better future awaits them. In other countries like Germany, Spain or France this is less positive.
An important moment awaits Poland. While the long weekend is upon us in Poland, politicians remain busy in Brussels. On May 2, the European Commission will present a draft new budget for the EU for 2021-2027. This could prove to be an exceptionally difficult day for Poland as it can no longer count on much in this new budget. For the first time in the history of the EU, there will be innovative criteria for EU financial support. One condition concerns law and order in a given country. There will also be difficulties connected with sharing money from the Union Fund of Cohesion. The new criteria concern youth unemployment, education, environmental protection, innovation and immigration. This means considerably less money for Poland than expected. After years of EU funding, Poland now faces a ‘lean’ period. The draft budget will be presented on May 2 and by the middle of June the Commission will present four particular legislative proposals concerning the rules of spending these funds. However, there is hope that other member states, who must unanimously approve the budget, will provide amendments that could be more advantageous for Poland.
Pupils in Radom schools no longer prefer fizzy drinks thank to the installation of drinking fountains which provide young people with fresh, clean tap water. The project, sponsored by the EU, which cost more than PLN 70,000 has been a hit with kids. According to Karol Semik, deputy mayor of Radom, interest in the undertaking is growing as representatives of local government continue to ask about the installation of drinking fountains in schools. Most importantly, however, is the fact that pupils are not forced to drink water but happily do so, much to their parents’ great joy, who eagerly supported the initiative. The drinking fountains were first installed in easily accessible places in 10 schools, after which school children began switching from sugar-filled fizzy drinks to water. Consequently, local authorities in Radom decided to install fountains in every primary, middle and high school and other in institutions which were interested in the project. In effect, the city of Radom has taken the first step to being one of Poland’s healthiest cities.
After Russia banned the import of products from Poland, Polish companies have been seeking other export opportunities. Spain has turned out to be one of Poland’s best partners and could soon become one of the five top export markets for Poland, according to Puls Biznesu. According to Marcin Luziński, a BZ WBK economist, Spain has undertaken several structural reforms and this has triggered faster economic growth. From January to April 2015, the export of Polish products to Spain increased by 22%, which positioned Spain as the seventh largest importer of Polish goods. First place is still occupied by Germany, where the export of Polish commodities increased by 9%; then the United Kingdom with an increased of 10.5%; and the Czech Republic, where Polish imports increased by 13.1%. Experts believe that Poland will soon begin making a greater impact on markets in the Middle East, the Far East, Africa and South America.
According to CBOS report, 70% of Poles are against the adoption of the euro and 25% are for it. This number of euro opponents is at its highest level ever. “Reluctance to the euro is still not decreasing in Poland and the proportion of opponents is the highest ever recorded,” according to the report. It also states: “Interestingly, objection to adopting the euro is not only rising but also more categorically expressed (with more people answering ‘definitely not’ than ‘rather not'”. CBOS notes that the greatest support for replacing the złoty with the euro was reported in January 2002 (64%), before Poland’s accession to the EU. “In 2007-2008, supporters and opponents for the adoption of the European currency were at similar levels. In the first quarter of 2009, following the accession of Slovakia to the euro zone and during discussion on the possibility and legitimacy of rapid adoption of the euro by Poland, support for the introduction of the common currency rose to 52-53%,” the CBOS report states.