Macron Wins Central European Support for Posted-Workers Reform

Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23
Austrian chancellor Christian Kern and French president Emmanuel Macron visit Salzburg, August 23 (BKA/Andy Wenzel)

French president Emmanuel Macron has won support from the leaders of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia for reform of the EU’s posted-workers regime.

“We are prepared work with all our partners on a technical level to agree an adjustment of the Posted Workers Directive so that we can overcome the split in the EU,” Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said following a four-nation summit in Salzburg.

Robert Fico, his Slovak counterpart, suggested a deal could be reached by October. Read more

Duda Hasn’t Stopped Law and Justice from Subjugating Poland’s Courts

Polish president Andrzej Duda answers questions from reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, January 18, 2016
Polish president Andrzej Duda answers questions from reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, January 18, 2016 (NATO)

Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has surprised observers by vetoing legislation from his own Law and Justice party that would have defanged the judiciary.

Closer scrutiny suggests Duda’s opposition is less meaningful than it is made out to be, though.

The president has said he will sign the bills if they are amended and Leonid Bershidsky argues at Bloomberg View that his proposed changes don’t deviate from the legislation’s objective: “to put the judiciary, which the party argues has turned into an elitist caste, under more political control.” Read more

Poland’s Ruling Nationalist Party Steps Up Assault on Judiciary

Prime Minister Beata Szydło of Poland listens to a reporter's question in Warsaw, June 28
Prime Minister Beata Szydło of Poland listens to a reporter’s question in Warsaw, June 28 (KPRM)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party pushed through more changes to the court system on Wednesday:

  • One bill takes power to appoint members to the National Judicial Council, which is responsible for appointing lower-level judges, away from the judiciary itself and gives it to parliament, where Law and Justice has a majority.
  • The same law removes fifteen of the 25 judges currently serving on the National Judicial Council.
  • A second bill gives the justice minister the power to unilaterally replace court presidents. Read more

EU Threatens Sanctions Against Central European States

Polish prime minister Beata Szydło is welcomed by her Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán, in Budapest, February 8, 2016
Polish prime minister Beata Szydło is welcomed by her Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán, in Budapest, February 8, 2016 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

The European Union is clamping down on its recalcitrant Central European member states.

The European Commission has opened what is called an infringement procedure against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to take in their share of refugees.

This comes on the heels of several probes into Hungary’s and Poland’s right-wing governments. Read more

Recalcitrant Hungary and Poland Exhaust Europe’s Patience

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán enters the European Parliament in Brussels for a debate, April 26
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán enters the European Parliament in Brussels for a debate, April 26 (European Parliament)

The European Parliament has opened an investigation into the state of democracy and rule of law in Hungary, which is ruled by the self-described illiberal democrat Viktor Orbán.

The resolution, introduced by liberal and left-wing groups, passed on Wednesday with the support of 68 members of the conservative European People’s Party, to which Orbán’s Fidesz belongs.

The mainstream right has long shielded Budapest from scrutiny, despite Orbán’s years of attacks on the courts, the central bank and the media, the removal of checks on his parliamentary majority and his pursuing of economic and migration policies that defy the European mainstream. Read more

Poland’s Opposition to Multispeed Europe Is Ill-Considered

Polish Law and Justice party leaders Jarosław Kaczyński and Beata Szydło attend the opening of an LNG terminal in Świnoujściu, June 18, 2016
Polish Law and Justice party leaders Jarosław Kaczyński and Beata Szydło attend the opening of an LNG terminal in Świnoujściu, June 18, 2016 (PiS)

Poland’s ruling party has come out against a proposal for more flexible integration in Europe that is supported by the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

“We cannot accept any announcements of a two-speed Europe,” Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of the conservative Law and Justice party, told the weekly W Sieci.

This would mean either pushing us out of the European Union or downgrading us to an inferior category of members.

This is hyperbole. Read more

Brexit and Trump Force Poles to Shelve Suspicions of Germany

Polish Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński gives a speech in Zakopane, October 19, 2015
Polish Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński gives a speech in Zakopane, October 19, 2015 (PiS)

The first thing Poland’s Law and Justice party did when it returned to power a year ago was pick a fight with Germany.

Jarosław Kaczyński’s national-conservative party, which controls both the presidency and parliament, has yet to forgive Germany for what it did to Poland seventy years ago.

When Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, accused the Poles of hypocrisy for expecting European solidarity in the face of Russian threats but refusing to help the rest of Europe cope with a refugee crisis, Mariusz Błaszczak, the interior minister, felt it necessary to invoke World War II. He called Schulz’ comments “another example of German arrogance” and pointed out, “We are talking in Warsaw. Warsaw was destroyed by the Germans.”

Now the prospect of Schulz coming to power in Berlin has Błaszczak’s party scrambling to repair Polish relations with his rival, Angela Merkel. Read more