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4. July 2018
Future of Europe 8 - Sovereignty - Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki
SPEECH OF MANFRED WEBER,
CHAIRMAN OF THE EPP GROUP IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Eighth Debate on the Future of Europe
4 July 2018
with Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland
- English language original version -
I would like to begin by saying to the Prime Minister that Europe is always about dialogue. That is why it is good to have him here to discuss the future of Europe with Poland. It was not Europe that brought democracy to Poland, but it was Poland that brought democracy to Europe, with the first modern codified constitution in Europe in 1791. The principle of the separation of powers was included in this first constitution.
For these principles, the Polish people stood strong, even in darkest times, in the Second World War and during the oppression of the Soviet Union. Pope John Paul II said in Warsaw, when standing in Victory Square in 1979, “there could be no just Europe without the independence of a democratic Poland marked on the map.” More than 10 million people – a quarter of the population of Poland – were members of Solidarność. Together with Lech Wałęsa, they fought for freedom and democracy and they laid the groundwork for a free and open, unified and democratic Europe. That is why we believe in a Poland based on the ideas of Lech Wałęsa and John Paul II. We admire them for what they did for Poland and for Europe.
But today, Mr Prime Minister, there are so many questions on the table from your country, where there were demonstrations on the streets yesterday. The question is: why is state TV in Poland today more a TV for propaganda and not a free, independent media anymore? Why does your Government dismiss judges because of their political opinions? You referred to Walter Hallstein. He would be very surprised to see that today nobody knows whether the Head of the Supreme Court of Poland is still in office or not. There is uncertainty. Nobody knows exactly what the situation is today.
Why did another Member State have to refer to the European Court of Justice on a court case, fearing that Polish citizens do not enjoy the right to a free and fair trial in your country? Why is this happening? And why do peaceful protesters, like Władysław Frasyniuk, face imprisonment for carrying roses, while nationalists who attack peaceful protesters are not even facing trial? Those are the questions on the table.
I think you missed an opportunity today to clarify these questions. Europe came together here in this Parliament. The founder of the free and democratic Poland, Lech Wałęsa, said recently that “in the 1980s there was no freedom without solidarity” and, he said, “today there is no freedom without the rule of law.” The rule of law is in the very roots of Poland and in the hearts of the Polish people. Europe will not turn its back on the Polish people. If the Polish Government does not preserve the great Polish achievements, Europe will do so.
And there is another Poland. There is a Poland of the demonstrators, the people in Poland who went out on the streets. There is a Poland, which welcomes 18 million tourists, who enjoy the freedom of movement, admire Poland and the culture of your great country. There is a Poland, which welcomes 4 000 NATO soldiers with the idea of protecting our European Union together. There is another Poland. And sometimes I wonder whether you speak here as PiS Government or whether you speak here as Polish Prime Minister? Do you really have this second Poland in mind? I also want to welcome our Polish guests here on the Tribune. They were invited by Michał Boni, so my thanks to him for that.
Bearing all this in mind, you also spoke about sovereignty. But I have to ask you: does the anti-EU atmosphere created in Poland - saying, in a way, that Brussels is the new Moscow - really makes Poland more sovereign? I completely agree with you on a few things – such as a Marshall Plan for Africa. But when you talk about such content, about taxation for example, and about the initiatives you want to take on this, do you really think that your approach of a “European Union of the nations” is something that can work?
Take the field of taxation as an example, where the unanimous vote requirement is blocking many good initiatives in Council because there is always one single Member State that vetoes everything. Do you really think that such a Europe will work? I tell you, when you talk about the EU 4.0, a new Europe, which listens to the citizens, there is already a Europe, which is listening to the citizens: this Chamber, the European Parliament. We represent the citizens of the European Union!
So we don’t need another Europe. I think our Europe is already working very well. Yesterday, the Bulgarian Presidency was here. Boyko Borissov, a colleague of yours, was present and gave us an overview of what we have achieved together in the last six months in the interests of the citizens of the European Union. Again, in the Council meetings last week, we experienced that the nation states can no longer find a common ground to go further. That is why I strongly believe that the European Union, founded by Adenauer, De Gasperi, and Schuman as you mentioned, and based on the institutions at European level, works. This Europe works. But the Europe of egoism and nationalism cannot deliver in the interests of the people of the European Union.
Let me say a final word and conclude with a personal remark. Prime Minister, because of your PiS governmental propaganda, I never took the floor here in this House when we spoke about Poland: I was afraid that my German background could be misused to attack my friends in Poland and others who are fighting there for the rule of law and freedom. I was afraid that it could be framed as “the Germans are telling us”. We sometimes hear this in Poland: “the Germans are telling us”. I was afraid to take the floor here, and I want to tell you that I am not speaking here as a German Member of the European Parliament. I am speaking here because 219 colleagues voted for me as leader of this Group. I want to fight for the interests of the citizens of the European Union. That is what we have to do: not to decide between good and bad Europeans. Let’s discuss the future of this continent. Let’s stick together. Let’s not be divided anymore. That would be a great message if we were to hear this from a Polish Prime Minister.
Here is the link to the video of the speech: