Yesterday the European Union issued its final reports on the progress towards meeting required EU standards of the 10 accession nations scheduled to become members as of next May 1. Inevitably, the issue arose of rankings: which country was doing the best job in finally adhering fully to the EU’s vast body of laws and regulations known as the acquis communautaire, which country the worst. In this, Slovenia comes out on top, and Poland at the bottom – although, in an interview yesterday evening on the BBC World Service, enlargement commissioner Günter Verheugen tried to downplay the question of rankings, claiming that it was no surprise that Poland had the most remaining problems, since it is the largest of the new member-states by far.
At the same time, Verheugen has made clear that each of these countries can face sanctions if it doesn’t get its act together. They don’t have to worry about being excluded from EU membership at the last minute, of course, but they could encounter things that could add a distinctly sour note to next May’s celebrations. These could include being hauled before the European Court of Justice or facing extraordinary “protection” measures from other EU states, such as tariffs on goods and/or restrictions on cross-border movements of their citizens.
If you’re willing to by-pass Verheugen’s “largest country” excuse, Poland’s place at the tail-end of the pack is rather ironic, considering the big trouble that country is stirring up in the ongoing Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to adopt an EU Constitution. Article foretaste: In Poland Threatens a Blockade, in yesterday’s Rzeczpospolita, deputy Polish foreign minister Jan Truszczynski explained how the “quality of the document” – i.e. getting its way on the EU Constitution – is far more important to Poland than mere questions of calendars and timetables. Although, in Waiting for Mutual Concessions in today’s edition of that paper, his boss foreign minister Cimoszewicz is quoted as declaring in Berlin that “we are ready to search for rational compromises.” But he also said that he expected such “compromises” to be attained by means of the German government changing its view on the European Council voting-weights arrangement that is at the center of controversy, and there is no sign that it is about to do that.
Let’s take a look at what one of the mainstays of the Polish press is saying about Poland’s having been singled out as class dunce. (more…)