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The “Poles position”? Early warning of a tough battle

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Brussels by - Federico Poggi

Yesterday Le Monde published an interview with Mr. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Polish prime minister, in which he announced once again his preparation for a tough European Council on the future shape of EU institutions. Mr.

Kaczynski said that Poland was ready to accept a compromise on the Council majority voting system but that it was not ready to accept the system drawn in the Constitutional treaty rejected last year by French and Dutch voters and already ratified by 18 member states. This option is supported particularly by the German Presidency and by the newly elected French President, Mr. Sarkozy.

Under the current regime Poland (like Spain) has 27 “voices” within the Council, only two votes less than Germany which represents more than twice the portion of European citizens living in Poland. No wonder Mr. J. Kaczynski will fight to keep Poland’s privileges as much as he can. The dead Constitutional treaty solution requires, in the main qualified majority procedure, decisions to be adopted by at least 55% of member states and 65% of the Union's population. With this system obviously the political weight of Poland and Spain would suffer a serious set back in favour of a more representative decisional process.

In his interview, Mr. J. Kaczynski acknowledges the huge benefits that Poland is getting from the EU membership, not least the financial aid to be given to Poland by 2013: more than 67 billions euros. According to the Polish prime minister if the country was so better off in the EU it was partly due to the current shape of the institutional framework. The Polish government’s approach is endorsed also by the Czech President Mr. Vaclav Klaus who today warned against covert moves to adopt a new EU Constitution.

Spain, which is bigger and is more populated than Poland, has not only ratified the Treaty but held a consultative referendum on 20 February 2005 in which the document was endorsed by 77% to 17%. The question is: even if it is undeniable that Spain has profited of the current system more than Poland ever will, why should they then give up their privileges in such an affirmative way? (Spain in January hosted a meeting of the 18 friends of the Constitution and Mr. Zapatero stressed in February that it was necessary to maintain the essence of the project).

Having an institutional framework adapted to 27 member states (the current one was drawn for 6…) would be positive not only for the institutions themselves but also for Europe as the biggest economic block in the world. Re-launching the EU would, in the long term, help the continent’s economy thus each member state. Unfortunately, Kaczynski twins and their colleagues in the Czech Republic seem not being able to stop considering the EU to be only a big cow they milk while they starve it.

Federico Poggi