Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union

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Should one believe the current President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, who said 'the Polish Presidency has undoubtedly been one of the best in recent years'? Or rather has it been just a mediocre one, with some successes and well unrevealed failures?

A good presidency despite unfavorable climate

03/22/2012 - 23:48
The Polish Presidency was the first presidency for Poland and can be evaluated as successful. Even though Poland did not realize all the priorities of its programme due to some external unfavorable circumstances, Poland's vision of Europe seems to become more and more important in the creation of European policies.

Poland took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union in times of financial crisis in the EU, but also in times of great decline in confidence in European integration. This is why we expected the Polish Presidency to inspire faith in the sense of European integration.

Hope that Poland inspires hope...

The pro-Europeanism and optimism of was welcomed in order to fight or at least cover the vague Euroscepticism recently developed while European solidarity, currently under crisis, is more needed that ever.

Polish Presidency's achievements

Among the main Polish achievements mentioned are: the adoption of the "six-pack" on the European economic governance (a set of six legislative measures giving the European Commission the power to impose sanctions on eurozone countries that exceed debt limits), the organization of the Forum for the Single Market, the Eastern Partnership Summit and the signing of the Treaty of Accession by Croatia.

Positive evaluation of the Polish Presidency despite a number of challenges

The Polish Presidency can be evaluated as successful even though only a part of its priorities has been achieved. The dynamic economy of the EU, its energetic and military security, as well as the open European policy towards our neighbours and new member states were a very accurate choice of priorities. But, they were confronted with extremely difficult conditions for their realization.

Yulia Tymoshenko's trial and imprisonment, as well as the intensification of Ukrainian and Belarusian non-democratic regimes made it impossible for Poland to strengthen the cooperation with these countries. On the other hand, the Southern neighbours of the EU recently became more important. In fact, the Arab Spring changed the axis of the European foreign policy, marginalizing the role of our Eastern neighbours.

Finally, some of the Polish Presidency's priorities have been set aside due to the severe financial crisis, debt crisis and the general crisis of the European economy. Yet, it seems that Poland courageously steered the European Union through this crossroad and clearly called for more integration and more union.

More Europe in Europe – from 'EU 17+10' toward 'EU 27–1'?

The eurozone and economical crisis created new dilemmas. The European Union faces today the choice of its political system reform. We must choose between intergovernmental individual member states' egoisms or the reinforcement of the European Community. We must choose between the amplification and the reduction of the multi-speed Europe. And the position of the Polish Presidency has been clear: more Community and more solidarity in the EU. Poland started its presidency in the 'EU 17+10' two-speed Europe divided into 17 countries members of the eurozone and 10 others left behind. Six months later, Polish Presidency ended with the 'EU 27–1'; that is, with a perspective of the incarnation of all member states, and not only the eurozone, in a new treaty fighting against the euro crisis, except for United Kingdom which has expressed its veto.

As we hoped, Poland inspired the EU with optimism and the defense of the solidarity and unity expressed in the Polish Presidency's motto: "More Europe in Europe". In January 2012, the presidency of the Council of the European Union was taken over by Denmark which will continue the cooperation with Poland according to .

 

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

Polish performance overshadowed by internal and external difficulties

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03/22/2012 - 23:48
After six months of Polish leadership in the European Council, the presidency is critically evaluated by many experts who regard it as strongly limited by the European financial crisis, the settlements of the European leadership as well as by the internal events of the Polish political scene.

Hopes were high among citizens about the Polish presidency of the EU before its beginning, which began on the 1st of July 2011.

Great hopes… and then?

The programme was very ambitious with its striking points concerning the EU financial market stability as well as the policy of national and political unity. Nevertheless, those settlements were not efficiently fulfilled, the reason for which the Polish presidency is regarded by the Europeans as a rather weak one.

European institutions vs. Polish leadership

The first point that can explain such a critical approach is the progressive reduction of the importance of the rotating president of the European Council. Before the Lisbon Treaty’s settlements were introduced, the country holding the presidency of the European Council had a significant role with its political leader as the president of the European Council and with the representation of the European Council on the international scene. Since the 1st of January 2010, the office of a permanent president of the European Council was created and there has been a growth in the importance of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. These two elements have significantly reduced the role of the European leadership and limited the country’s field of action at European level. Hence, the Polish presidency could not lead the policy and the economy of the EU…

The brief glance on the Polish political scene

… but Poland could improve its role in EU current affairs which would be legitimized by the event of its presidency. The problem is that the national leadership had also been occupied with the legislative elections which were organized in October, in midst of the Polish presidency in the EU. This event did not result in a drastic change of Polish policy, since the political parties elected were the same as the ones which came to form the Parliamentary coalition afterwards. Nevertheless, the concern of the politicians with those two obligations on the national and European level resulted with some distraction from EU affairs. Moreover, there were some good initiatives presented by Poland which, however, turned out to be of minor importance comparing with the most serious problems of the EU at that time: the eurozone crisis. The proposition of the creation of the European Foundation for Democracy aiming at the political future of Arabic countries and of Belarus proposed by the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski, was a good initiative, but it was effectively overshadowed by the threat of eurozone future stability.

From the economic crisis to the political crisis

The Polish presidency was also weakened by country’s monetary structure. As Polish currency is not the euro, but the złoty, it seems natural that Poland could not be the leading actor during the economic negotiations on the European summits concerning the financial crisis. Nevertheless, its role was also undermined. More precisely, the euro summits in July and October were held mainly by France and Germany and the leader of the European Council was not invited to participate. Even if the implementation of the compromise in a form of the six-pack was given to Poland, it has shown the feeble importance of Poland in the European scenario. The euro crisis also produced the political crisis with Great Britain, which didn’t accept the propositions of France and Germany.

Hour of trial

Thus, this harsh hour of trial appeared during the Polish presidency in the European Council and determined the image of Poland’s leadership on the international and national scenarios: the image of a weak presidency, which is partly the fault of independent events and the inability of the Polish government to adapt itself to changing circumstances by introducing concepts related to the problems.

 

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

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Polish performance overshadowed by internal and external difficulties
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