By fabricating a Constitutional Court ruling that effectively rejects the legal basis for EU membership, Poland’s ruling party may have finally bit more than it can chew. Unfortunately, whatever happens next, all Poles are likely to bear the costs of the government scam.
WARSAW – After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Poland’s biggest dream was to join the European Union and NATO. Marked by Nazism and then Communism, the Poles longed for a new start, and membership in NATO and the EU became an objective that transcended politics.
EU membership was seen as so important that Polish liberals refrained from discussing controversial issues concerning Polish history or the Catholic Church. Even Pope John Paul II (a Pole) got involved, pushing the slogan “from the Union of Lublin to the European Union”, in reference to the pact of 1569 which finalized the unification of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (under which today’s Poland, Belarus and Ukraine formed one democratically governed state). In 2003, more than three quarters of Poles voted in favor of EU membership.
Eighteen years later, Polish support for EU membership has reached almost 90%. The EU thus enjoys a stronger democratic mandate than that obtained by a Polish government since 1989, mainly due to two factors: national security and the economy. The EU is widely regarded as the guarantor of the independence of Poland, threatened for centuries by Russian imperialist ambitions. When the Poles see Ukraine tormented by Russia, they see their own destiny without the EU and NATO.
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