The dispute with Poland remained unresolved at the EU summit. Member states want to act against vaccine skepticism, with Friday focusing on the debate following the wave of migration coming from Belarus.
Despite German-French mediation efforts, the legal dispute with Poland remained unresolved at the EU summit in Thursday’s debates. The head of the Polish government, Mateusz Morawiecki, defended himself against “blackmail”, according to him by the EU. The European Commission will once again block the multibillion-dollar aid earmarked for Poland for the recovery of the economy after the pandemic. At the summit, countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria pressured the government in Poland to withdraw controversial justice reforms.
Chancellor Merkel, who probably attended her last EU summit if the German government is formed in December, called for dialogue with Poland and, like President Macron, held bilateral meetings with the Polish prime minister. Once again Merkel had to come out in her role as a savior of European crises, in this case with Poland. “The rule of law remains the core of the EU,” Merkel said at the start of the summit, so we need to find a way to a solution.
Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte demanded that the EU “remain tough” on Warsaw. “The red line has been crossed,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo in connection with the challenged decision of the Polish Constitutional Court, which had declared it part of EU law as not in accordance with Polish law. There was no solution on the first day of the summit, but the debate is a step towards a solution, European diplomats said. EU Council President Charles Michel thanked EU heads of state and government for their constructive stance.
Debate on energy prices
But much longer and more controversial was the debate at the summit on rising energy prices in the EU. The Czech Republic and Hungary for some time went against the EU plans. According to diplomats, both countries have complained about price changes in the markets due to emissions trading. Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced his country’s resistance to Brussels’ proposals for climate protection until 2030, which he called a “utopian fantasy”. Germany and Austria, for their part, stressed that there is no link between climate protection and high gas and oil prices.
Just at midnight on Friday, the heads of EU countries and governments agreed on the draft of a joint statement. As a concession to the Czech Republic and Hungary, it stated that the European Commission would, together with the European Market Surveillance Authority, ESMA, verify “the functioning of the gas and electricity markets and the emissions trading market”.
Overcome vaccine skepticism
Heads of government and EU countries want to act against vaccine skepticism in the EU in order to encourage overcoming the pandemic as soon as possible. For this, more action will be taken against the false information circulating on the Internet, it is said in the summit statement published on Friday night. The EU summit praises the successes achieved by member states in the fight against the virus, “but the situation in some member states is still very serious.”
The EU will continue to help third countries access vaccines. The European Commission will work with vaccine manufacturers to remove obstacles to making the vaccine available as soon as possible. “This will enable member states to speed up the supply of vaccines to the most needy countries,” the summit statement said.
“Hybrid attack” from Belarus
On Friday, EU leaders debated the growing number of refugees coming to the EU via Belarus. The German chancellor accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of “state smuggling of people”. She has threatened Lukashenko with new sanctions. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that we see this as a “hybrid war from Belarus.” Von der Leyen said, “no human life should be endangered for political reasons. “I am confident that the Council will give a firm and firm response to this conduct of Belarus, which must end.”
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