Without a solution, Europeans avoid tearing themselves apart over the rule of law

There were toasts at the dinner and a family photo to immortalize the meeting of European heads of state and government which was held in Brussels on Thursday 21 October. Because, as the negotiations to form a coalition in Germany progress, it is not certain that Angela Merkel will be at the table of the Twenty-Seven the next time they meet, in December.

The Chancellor, of whom it was the 107e European council in sixteen years of reign, did not want to miss its farewell. And above all, not to leave for a Europe fractured between East and West, which has worked so hard to maintain the link between the two former blocks of the continent. From this point of view, the dissensions between Poland and the Europeans on the rule of law could not have ended badly. Since the Polish Constitutional Court, close to the ruling Right and Freedom Party (PiS), ruled on October 7 that European law does not take precedence over national law, thus calling into question the very foundations of the European Union (EU), the Chancellor tried to defuse the crisis. She knows that some exchanges between the Twenty-Seven can degenerate and wanted to avoid it at all costs.

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“It is not an avalanche of disputes before the Court of Justice of the European Union which will give us a guide to the practice of the rule of law, she explained on her arrival in Brussels, we have to find a way to find ourselves. “ But, she continued, there is a ” problem “, which goes well beyond the single case of Warsaw and the debates on the independence of Polish justice, that of knowing which Europe the Twenty-Seven want: “An ever closer Union or a Europe of nations? “ For Angela Merkel, it is a subject that “Can be dealt with within the framework of the conference on the future of Europe”. But, when we know the little importance that Berlin gives to this initiative, wanted by France, we can only deduce that this is a delaying maneuver.

“Threatened” balances

Basically, no one wanted to go to the clash on Thursday evening, for fear of precipitating the EU into a deep crisis from which it would then find it difficult to come out. Everyone has camped on their positions, the points of view have not come together. But the tone did not rise. “The question is very serious and very serious and can threaten the balance”, comments a diplomat. Member states wanted to show that they would not let Warsaw continue on this slope. And affirm their support for the Commission, which, as guardian of the treaties, can take retaliatory measures. Infringement procedure, article 7 (which allows the EU to sanction a Member State which does not respect its founding values), conditionality mechanism of the payment of community funds to respect for the rule of law: “She will use all the tools at her disposal”, comments a diplomat. Thursday evening, the member states have largely encouraged it. In any case, it will take several months before they are effective.

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