"Yes" to a single Union

Last Saturday, on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, European Union member state leaders signed the Rome Declaration. The document was expected to outline the direction to be followed by the European community over the coming years.

Prime Minister Beata Szydło, about to attend the European Union Summit in Rome, emphasised at yesterday’s Integration of Europe – the Anniversary and the New Opening conference that celebrating the signing of treaties which had resulted in the forming of the European Union has been sullied somewhat by current developments, such as the process of Great Britain leaving the European Union and overall uncertainty as to the general direction followed by the organisation.

The Community’s unity will be of major importance to the European Union’s future. “A number of concepts as to how to handle the crises will appear. The ‘multi-speed Europe’ slogan is frequently repeated. The Polish government is critical of such an idea,” the Prime Minister declared. Mrs Szyd­ło remarked that a certain speed differential is obvious—e.g.  with regard to European Union member states being part (or not) of the euro zone, or the stage of integration within the Schengen area—however, the Prime Minister believes that “such developments are practically automatic in respect to sovereign states and of no major consequence to overall co-operation, while the formal sanctioning of a multi-speed community is nothing but a new and very serious centrifugal force, disintegrating Europe and forcing more uncertainty and chaos to our co-operation mechanism. It encourages the creation of sub-groups, to exclude, and to walk away from joint decisions,” the Prime Minister said.

Two-Speed Concept Spells Disintegration

While such a move may seem attractive from the perspective of a number of European Union member states, Poland believes that it is disadvantageous to the Union in its entirety. “The European Union needs changes and improvements to whatever is not working properly. Yet we will not reach that objective by applying two speeds: we would disassemble the project instead of fixing it,” said the head of the Polish government.

According to the Prime Minister, one area of improvement ought to involve greater empowerment of European institutions, usually perceived today as being disconnected from actual issues suffered by member-state citizens. The context involves an appeal for the role of national parliaments to be increased within the Community. Concurrently, protection mechanisms should be applied to the common market—under the circumstance that economically stronger states, and the European Commission itself, show protectionist tendencies and are actually targeting limited access to more competitive markets for companies from economically weaker member states.

Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Konrad Szymański announced that Polish postulates carried by the Prime Minister to the Summit have been phrased unambiguously.

“Our intentions concerning the Rome Declaration—conditional to the Polish Prime Minister signing the Declaration—are obvious. We want the Declaration not to open a gateway to rifts within the European Union, we have no wish for the European Union to be divided or to take self-weakening action,” Szymański said. Poland further expects the European Union’s social agenda not to limit the common market—specifically the market of services and labour for Polish and Central European employees and service providers. Defence policy-related entries ought to stipulate that activities in the field shall not be engaged in at the expense of or separately from NATO, but rather as a joint undertaking with the Organisation. “Finally, we wish for the following to be said out loud: any concept of returning the European Union to Europeans will require taking the path through national parliaments,” Vice-Minister Szymański added.

Artur Kowalski, Nasz Dziennik