“It is certainly important to recognize that the efforts of the federalists will not cease. […] Some people talk about hegemonization,” says former Foreign Minister and current MEP Witold Waszczykowski (PiS) in an interview with the wPolityce.pl portal.
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wPolityce.pl: Can we say that the Conference on the Future of Europe is an attempt to change the system of the European Union outside the Treaty?
Witold Waszczykowski: Yes. Exactly. The fact is that the European Treaty, which is the basis of European law, can only be changed by absolute consensus. It’s a long road. First an intergovernmental conference must be set up to negotiate the changes, then these changes must be approved by normal ratification in the Member States, often again by referendum, so that today there is no favorable climate to a treaty change. On the one hand, there are countries like us which – if the treaty were to be opened – would like to be more precise and define the prerogatives of certain European institutions, for example the Commission. But there are also States which, on the contrary, would like to extend the prerogatives of the Commission, enter into conditionality, etc. Therefore, a means was devised to create a pan-European and social debate through such conferences, in principle, we can say a gathering. Of course, at these gatherings, people with strong opinions aimed at expanding the prerogatives of the institutions were mainly invited to the organized panels – they can be briefly called federalists. European citizens convinced of federalism were also invited to these gatherings, and they wanted to affirm that the majority of European citizens demand changes, and therefore these changes must be introduced.
We had a dilemma because we had already attended these conferences, gatherings or panels and noticed this workaround. We were debating whether to vote against the proposed changes, which would de facto legitimize the whole process – that way we would sign, of course we would be voted out and it would be considered that we had lost by the democratic majority – or whether to protest by withdrawing completely, by no longer participating in the proceedings of this conference on the future of Europe. We decided that it was better to withdraw so as not to legitimize this procedure.
The question is what will be the consequences of adopting this so-called consensus in a situation where, in fact, there was no such consensus? What will then happen to the structures of the European Union? Does this mean the final burial of democracy and oligarchization, perhaps even in a totalitarian sense? What will the relationship between the establishment of the European Union and the citizens of the member states look like at this stage? These are the main questions that have arisen after what happened on Saturday.
It is certainly important to recognize that the efforts of the federalists will not cease. After what happened with Brexit, when there was no reflection on the European continent, the only response from Juncker and his committee was that after Brexit, even more of the same, c ie even more Europe in the sense of even more politicization of the institutions, even more deprivation of the States as a national prerogative for the benefit mainly of the Commission, we can also expect it now. After all, when you have an energy crisis, everyone thinks “What if we impose an embargo, there will be no Russian gas and oil, so what?”, Nobody answers “So maybe let’s think at the pace of green change, let’s stop at the coal we have, let’s stop at the nuclear plants.” No. The answer is, “Then the answer is an even faster pace of green change.” Now, after the election French people, I expect this pressure to continue to grow. Macron has already announced that he will continue to push forward proposals for reforms towards federalism and will likely use the results of these conference rallies, using this as an argument to argue that he has the social mandate of Europeans for these changes. But, of course, these will be political debates. There will certainly be an attempt to take advantage of all the loopholes in European law, as has happened with , for example ple, the introduction of a conditionality clause, or post-ovid reconstruction programs, stretch treaties, budgetary interpretation, etc.
At this point, especially in the context of the Conference on the Future of the EU, I wonder if it is still about federalization or is it already about colonization? They are colonial tools, after all.
Some speak of hegemonization. First you could talk about Franco-German hegemonization, now you were basically talking about German hegemonization, because the French seem to be weakening, but it could be that Macron with another mandate – strong enough, because he won the convincingly, although probably the legislative elections they will weaken it, but now with this five-year mandate it will come back more strongly to the reform of the European Union, so this tandem will come back again. Macron will likely benefit from some weakening of Chancellor Scholz, who is going through tough times due to his dilemmas over the Russian embargo and aid to Ukraine. It must therefore be taken into account that this course of domination of the tandem, no longer Germano-French, but Franco-German, will once again be strong and will increase.
What measures should Poland take in this situation? What should be your priority when it comes to defending Polish interests?
I think the editor should address this question to Minister Konrad Szymański, who a few years ago was allowed to be the face of the Polish struggle in the Union for our interests and it is worth starting to ask him accounts, what he did to protect us from the whole Art 7 process. What did he do to protect us from being penalized by not giving us money from the post-ovid rehabilitation program? This is connected with the fact that under its influence this mechanism of conditionality, the punishment for Turów, the punishment for the Disciplinary Chamber were accepted. I am seriously saying that a minister of this government is responsible and that we have to ask questions about the answers he has and what he interprets, how he explains all this. I can’t explain myself to him.
I understand, but what does it look like to you as an MEP?
I think Poland has to defend itself. We should have all the options on the table and not give up on anything. We should refuse to pay these fines because we believe that the interference of the European institutions in the Turnowa issue is unfounded and without legal basis, that the interference in the administration of justice is unfounded and that there is no there is no legal basis. We want to reform our judicial system and the Disciplinary Chamber, but because we want to. We should certainly be in this position, but we should also follow the example of countries that were once disciplined like us, that is, countries like Spain in the 1980s – they also wanted to subjugate it – and these countries simply held back, or even other European politicians vetoed it. I am thinking of greenways, etc. It may be too early today to suspend our contributions, but this option cannot be ruled out. We should not assume in advance that she is stupid, illogical, because something – such statements were made from the mouth of the government spokesman. It should exist on the table, of course, as an atomic option. I encourage you to take a strong stand, to defend yourselves, because our security is at stake today and in the future, threatened not only by Russian aggression, which may intensify and expand, but also because of extremely unfavorable decisions taken by the European institutions. We are in these institutions, we exist, and we also have our own commissioner, so all instruments must be used at this time to defend ourselves.
Thanks for the conversation.
Anna Wiejak interviewed