Behind the Polish veto on the European budget, a scent of cultural war and internal political conflicts

The situation seems gruesome, and has aroused incomprehension in Brussels: a member state of the European Union, Poland, supported by Hungary, veto the multiannual European budget, negotiated in pain, as well as the recovery aimed at dealing with the post-Covid crisis, two instruments of which it would be one of the main beneficiaries. Poland was indeed to receive nearly 160 billion euros in direct subsidies or preferential loans, in a context where economists agree that the country’s public finances have been largely undermined by economic and social policy. of the ultraconservative government of Law and Justice (PiS), which came to power in 2015.

After the announcement of the veto by Warsaw on Monday, November 16, the Conference of Ambassadors of the Polish Republic denounced, in little diplomatic terms, in a press release, a “Suicidal tactic” and an “Threatens the vital interests of Poland and its citizens”. “After five years of incompetent and harmful European politics, the PiS government finds itself in an impasse. Instead of backing down he’s heading for disaster. (…) He antagonizes the other Member States of the European Union by marginalizing its influence ”, say the ambassadors.

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The threat of the veto had been brandished for several weeks by the strong man of the country, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and demanded since the end of the budget negotiations in July by Zbigniew Ziobro, the sulphurous Minister of Justice, bête noire of Brussels, and author of the reforms controversies of justice which earned Poland the initiation by the European Commission of a procedure to “safeguard the rule of law” in 2016.

“Abortion” and “euthanasia”

The objective was clear: to refuse any conditioning of the payment of funds to terms – even vague – relating to respect for the rule of law, and to make it more difficult for the European executive to prosecute Poland before the Court of Justice of the European Union. The veto decision was taken directly by Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his relatives, in his office in Nowogrodzka Street, the PiS headquarters in Warsaw.

But beyond the question of principle, the Polish veto takes on a deeper cultural character, which testifies to the relationship to the European project, to its values, and to the sovereignty of part of the Polish right. An approach which, far from being marginal, is widely relayed in society by a myriad of public and private media affiliated with the government. This approach was perfectly summed up in a press release from Solidarna Polska (“Solidarity Poland”), the PiS satellite microparty, led by Zbigniew Ziobro and considered the hard wing of the majority.

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