Poland to discuss movement toward peace, but fear of refugee quotas remains

Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Environment Minister Jan Szyszko are to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tomorrow morning, the…

Poland to discuss movement toward peace, but fear of refugee quotas remains

Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Environment Minister Jan Szyszko are to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tomorrow morning, the Polish government announced late Wednesday.

It’s hoped that the talks will continue an exchange of notes between Szydlo and other officials regarding the Polish government’s plans to ask the European Commission to formally endorse the country’s decision to take in tens of thousands of migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan this year, amid a more widespread immigration crisis.

An agreement regarding their allocation will come in exchange for the continued funding and stability of refugee registration centers located in places including Jadu, Slovakia; Tatarstan, Russia; and Valetta, Malta.

The following areas will continue to see the upkeep of the camps until the end of 2017 (Source: The Legatum Institute, 2017); however, the funding for them will be redirected to “national infrastructure development” in the aforementioned countries. (Source: Center for European Reform, 2016); however, in light of Europe’s rise in terror attacks, the continuation of the resettlement program at the current rate would mean that the EU would double its current costs. It would also mean that Poland alone is responsible for the costs of more than 60 percent of the resettlement program’s relocation as well as maintaining the camps indefinitely. (Source: Zainab Salbi Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2015)

Poland has faced criticism from the European Commission in response to the populist ruling party, the Law and Justice party’s (PiS) reform of the country’s constitution, which includes an amendment that would mean that Polish law applies only to Poles and remains above state authority.

The “Poles first” measure was a direct challenge to a 2013 EU Court ruling that said such a measure was illegal, and also violates the rights of non-nationals that are brought to Poland to claim asylum. The commission has already filed to vacate an initial decision taken by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, which declared the measure illegal; however, officials have yet to provide a concrete timeline for a decision.

With the fall of another South African leader and on the heels of a controversial decision to raise minimum wages for EU employees by almost 15 percent this year, Poles are increasingly losing faith in the EU and the West as a whole.

On Monday night during a live interview with a Polish news channel on the fate of the country’s relationship with Brussels, Szydlo was asked how she dealt with criticism from the European Union, or whether she felt “frustrated” during negotiations.

“I don’t feel frustrated, rather that we have already agreed to something; that the work is already done. It’s about getting our message across; but the common position is already made. We already have a common agenda, and I think that it’s enough, we just need to speak and discuss and that’s it.”

After the meeting with leaders from other central European countries, Szydlo is expected to push for a conclusion to the asylum issue, so that the east-west division can move on to the next challenge.

A look back at some of Poland’s contributions to NATO. (Source: The Legatum Institute, 2017)

The two leaders had a tense meeting earlier this month after Szydlo and Polish President Andrzej Duda refused to sign a preliminary EU statement on the war-torn Chechnya region of Russia, but on Tuesday, Duda did later sign the document.

Neither the Polish government nor the European Commission responded to a request for comment.

Leave a Comment