It’s easy to say Polexit, after how the Brexit, which seemed an absurdity and which instead has been done. “Poland actually opens the procedure for leaving the European Union”: this is the reading that many give of a sentence of the Constitutional Court of Warsaw, according to which some EU regulations are not compatible with the country’s Constitution. The verdict of the Polish Supreme Judges violates a fundamental principle of the European Union, namely that common law prevails over national ones – which must be adapted (and not vice versa).
In fact, that reading is not correct: Poland, like Hungary and, to a lesser extent, other countries of the Visegrad Group or close to them are ‘pulling the rope’ of relations with the EU, on the rule of law, freedom of expression, the reception of migrants, but they absolutely do not want to break it because the European structural funds are essential to their economic development – and they will be even more so at the time of the Next Generation EU – and they have no intention of giving it up.
Rather, their provocations, which respond to requests from parties in power and volatile public opinion on the European front, bet on the shortcomings of the EU’s self-protection tools, which it does not have an adequate range of penalties to be applied to those who, once entered, do not play the game and force the partners to a sort of continuous re-negotiation: it is the story of Great Britain, but also of Denmark, in the integration process.
Furthermore, Warsaw and Budapest play on the fragility of political cohesion among the 27 because there are, in every country, sovereign and populist forces that sympathize with the Polish and Hungarian ‘euro-skeptical’ instances. Of course, they are generally opposition and minority forces, with some exceptions, including that of Italy: on the Tespi chariot of the Draghi government, actors who play a double part, pro-Europeans – lukewarm and hypocritical – in the Council of Ministers, sovereign and anti-EU outside, in Parliament and in the streets.
Events such as that of the Polish Constitutional Court and, even more, the disputes over migrants, as soon as they explode again, they bring out the nostalgia for a smaller Union, but more cohesive. A dozen countries yesterday asked, before a meeting of the interior ministers of the 27, new ‘old’ instruments to protect the EU’s external borders from migratory flows, even going so far as to hypothesize European funding of fences and walls: they ask, that is, to the common institutions what not even Donald Trump never managed to get from the US Congress, despite controlling both the Senate and the House, that is, the money for the Wall on the border with the Mexico (which, in four years, has not pulled up, except for some segments).
The list of signatories of the letter addressed to the European Commission and the Slovenian rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers – in alphabetical order Austria, Bulgaria, Cipro, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary – does not even include one of the founding countries: the vast majority (9 out of 12) are countries that joined the Union after 2004 – Croatia, Malta, Romania and Slovenia are missing -. The ‘intruders’ they are Austria and Denmark, whose governments, although of different colors, have rigid anti-migrant positions, and Greece, which, even more than Italy, lives the problem at the forefront.
Another interesting point: among the 12 signatories, only two are net contributors to the European Union, Austria and Denmark; the others are all net beneficiaries, that is, they have a financial interest, not just an economic and social one, in remaining in the Union.
In their letter, the 12 countries ask for “new tools that make it possible to avoid, rather than deal with later, the serious consequences overloaded migration and asylum systems and exhausted reception capacities, which ultimately negatively affect confidence in the ability to act decisively when needed … At the same time, these European solutions should aim to safeguard the common system of asylum reducing the ‘pull factors’, the factors of attraction ”.
Real problems to discuss. However, one wonders if walls and barriers are the proper answer or rather the simple answer they are always looking for, but which is often wrong.
On the other hand, the claim of Warsaw and Budapest to reduce the spaces of the rule of law and also of the freedom of expression, perhaps in the name of Christian values and ‘illiberal democracy’ (which is a contradiction in terms). To put it simply, do the Polish and Hungarian governments want the money of their European partners? Then, respect the rules. Otherwise, their partners find an agreement to cut their funds. And, at that point, we’ll see if Polexit is a nightmare or a bluff.