Welcome to European Union B

Poland’s newly-elected populist, right-wing government digs in its heels over Brussels’ interference – insists on exercising sovereign powers

Preface by Pam Barker | TLB staff writer

There is such a thing as European Union B, apparently. Comprising Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they’re all chafing at the EU obligation to accept set numbers of migrants.

But Poland has another beef. Its mildly Euro-sceptic right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) came to power in 2015, claiming to represent ordinary Poles, and now it finds itself the subject of an EU probe about its adherence to the rule of law and democracy. The EU Commission is pushing the PiS to appoint 3 judges to its Constitutional Tribunal, who had been appointed under the previous parliament. The PiS is so far refusing to recognize these judges.

This is the first time the EU has launched this kind of investigation.

The possible outcome of Poland’s refusal? A suspension of its EU voting rights.

PiS leader and power behind the throne, Jaroslaw Kaczynski is interpreting this as an instance of Brussels’ overreach, symptomatic of an out-of-touch, privileged bureaucracy that has no idea about the needs of average Polish citizens.   PiS isn’t willing to budge.

Enjoy Norbert Maliszewski’s analysis.


Poland’s ruling Law and Justice has no reason to give in to Brussels. The EU’s too easy to portray as arrogant and out of touch with ordinary Poles.

By Norbert Maliszewski

When Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) came to power in 2015, the party and its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, claimed to represent Poles who feel like they missed out on the country’s quarter century of political and economic revolution. PiS cast its rivals as arrogant crony politicians who cashed in on Poland’s transition and represented the richer western half of the country, known as “Poland A,” and treated the eastern, poorer half — “Poland B” — with disdain.

Ten years later, with the party now back in power with a strong majority in parliament, the same messaging is at work in PiS’s current standoff with the European Commission. In Kaczyński’s version, the crisis prompted by concerns about rule of law and democracy in Poland is really about something else: arrogant Brussels bureaucrats and their supporters in Warsaw who don’t understand the needs and aspirations of average Poles.

PiS is presenting the crisis as one more example of Brussels overreach. Poland is now firmly with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which all resent Brussels over a wide range of issues, especially the proposal to force all members to accept a set number of migrants. This Euroskeptic bloc is forming what could be called a “European Union B.”


Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban

Poles are among the strongest supporters of the EU, but there is a minority in favor of loosening ties with the EU. Some even voice support for a so-called “Polexit.” The constitutional standoff with Brussels over Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal could move more Poles in that direction.

Continue reading here


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About the author

Norbert Maliszewski is a political scientist at the University of Warsaw and contributor to Politico

About the contributor

TLB image Pam

Pam Barker is a TLB staff writer/analyst based in France. She has an extensive background in the educational systems of several countries at the college and university level as a teacher and administrator.