Gli allegati fanno parte integrante dell’articolo. La loro lettura sarebbe essenziale per una corretta interpretazione dello scritto, che è stato redatto utilizzando anche altre fonti qui non riportate.
«It’s not Poland which has a problem with the EC, it’s the EC which has the problem» [Polish PM Beata Szydło]
«The more public pressure they create, the more difficult it is for the Polish government to make any concession» [Eastern European diplomat]
* * *
«The European Commission has threatened the two central European states with financial penalties if they block the creation of a public prosecutor tasked with fighting corruption»
«The European Commission could impose financial penalties on Poland and Hungary if they block the creation of a European public prosecutor»
«Corruption, however, threatens to undermine this core European value. Last year, at least €638 million ($682 million) in structural funds were misappropriated and those are only the known cases. The true figure could be much higher.»
«It’s fair to say that participation in the European public prosecutor’s office should play a role in negotiations over structural funds»
«The E.U. member states have been discussing the establishment of a public prosecutor since 2013. So far, 20 of the 28 member states support the creation of such an office»
«Those opposed, including the Netherlands and Sweden, argue the public prosecutor would infringe on their national sovereignty»
* * * * * * *
– È dal 2013 che in Commissione Europea si discute sulla opportunità che i paesi membri si dotino di una procura anticorruzione, che applichi procedure e leggi comunitarie.
– Ogni paese membro ha già il proprio sistema giudiziario cui compete, inter alias, anche la repressione dei reati di corruzione.
– La procura anticorruzione non sarebbe però un duplicato, bensì un tribunale speciale che applicherebbe in stati sovrani un diritto europeo, un de iure condendo, tra l’altro, del tutto scollegato dal diritto nazionale, ma a lui superiore.
– In una recente votazione, l’Italia ed altri diciannove stati su ventotto hanno votato a favore dell’istituzione della procura anticorruzione. La delibera avrebbe dovuto essere deliberata a maggioranza assoluta, ossia 28 su 28 paesi, ma la si riguarda come se fosse stata approvata.
– Tra i paesi che si sono opposti, Olanda e Svezia hanno motivato il voto contrario perché una procura anticorruzione avrebbe violato il loro sistema giuridico e la loro sovranità.
– Adesso la Commissione Europea minaccia Polonia ed Ungheria, paesi che avevano votato contro questa delibera, di severe sanzioni economiche quali ritorsioni al diniego della procura anticorruzione. Non contro gli otto votanti contro, ma solo contro Polonia ed Ungheria.
«Sono in vertiginoso aumento gli accordi fiscali segreti siglati dai Paesi Ue con compagnie multinazionali»
«Dai 547 tax-ruling siglati nel 2013, si è passati ai 972 del 2014, fino a raggiungere i 1,444 in vigore in Ue alla fine del 2015»
«In questo contesto, il Lussemburgo, dopo lo scandalo LuxLeaks, non ha cambiato direzione ed ha concesso altri 172 accordi segreti alle multinazionali, collocandosi in testa alla classifica»
Le procure anticorruzione operanti negli stati europei che le hanno ammesse non hanno avviato alcuna indagine nei loro confronti. Eppure il Lussemburgo, solo per fare un esempio, è stato tra i votanti a favore.
The European Commission is trying to dial down tensions with Warsaw over whether Poland shares the EU’s democratic principles, but there is growing doubt in Brussels that a way out of the stalemate can be found.
Few believe the Commission’s current rule-of-law probe will ever result in official sanctions against Poland — even if it progresses past several procedural obstacles designed to prevent that outcome. Diplomats and politicians said any punishment for Warsaw’s outspoken intransigence on its actions may have to come in less tangible ways — if it comes at all.
“I don’t really think that anybody has a strategy, or wants to get Poland out,” a European diplomat said. “Everybody is still expecting this government to come back to its senses.”
“Hoping” might be a more appropriate term, given the awkward diplomatic back-and-forthbetween Brussels and Warsaw in recent days. The dispute highlights the difficulty of maintaining EU solidarity without fueling rising populismand unease across the bloc over policies from Brussels ranging from migration to economic governance.
The Commission’s most recent effort to put its foot down — setting a deadline for the Polish government to bring itself into lineor else face the threat of an “opinion” from Brussels that sanctions might be needed — backfired spectacularly. Polish politicians reacted harshly, accusing EU bureaucrats of meddling in their internal politics. Brussels responded by backing away from its Monday deadline and giving Warsaw more time.
The Commission’s point man on the issue, First Vice President Frans Timmermans, traveled to Warsaw Tuesday for new talks with Prime Minister Beata Szydło, who a few days earlier had thrown red meat to members of the Polish parliament, telling them, “It’s not Poland which has a problem with the EC, it’s the EC which has the problem.”
In Warsaw, Timmermans struck a different tone in the hope that Warsaw would make concessions in the dispute over controversial changes to its constitutional tribunal. “I fully agree with the Polish prime minister when she says this is only a Polish problem and that we can only find a Polish solution,” he told reporters, according to Reuters.
Commission officials — who were quick to insist that the Monday deadline was never really a deadline — are now talking about a much blurrier June timetable for deciding whether to take their rule of law probe to the next step.
Not too tough
Diplomats in Brussels say the climbdown highlights once again the delicacy of the situation: The EU needs to uphold its treaties, but avoid looking like it’s pushing one of its members around, even if that member is seen by many as defiantly ignoring its membership responsibilities.
“The rule of law dialogue is there to prevent sanctions,” a Commission official said, referring to the procedure the EU executive body launched in January into the Polish government’s actions after Poland made radical changes to its institutions, the most controversial of which reduced the Constitutional Tribunal’s independence, critics said.
Sanctions are what everyone wants to avoid. A decision in 2000 to impose sanctions on Austria after a strong electoral showing by a far-right party backfired on Brussels. Efforts to bring Hungary to heel for controversial financial and judicial reforms were handled more gingerly, and Budapest backtracked, though not fully.
Several diplomats said the EU’s Poland problem is mainly a Commission concern at this point and isn’t creating serious problems in dealings among member countries. “The Poles are not sidelined in meetings,” said one Eastern European diplomat, who added that few are talking about taking the drastic step of depriving Poland — the EU’s sixth largest member country — of its voting rights in the Council.
Poland’s heated rhetoric in recent days has raised concern in Brussels that the situation could spin out of control if the EU doesn’t react. While the EU could use other tools to put pressure on Poland, including by carrying out tighter scrutiny of EU spending in the country, finding the right approach was crucial, diplomats said.
“There is the idea that this is a case of emerging populism and that we shouldn’t use any tough method which would turn the Polish population against Europe,” said an EU diplomat. “We can’t be counterproductive.”
Money might talk
There are still plenty of politicians who say Brussels should step up pressure to isolate a country many see as violating the EU’s fundamental rights.
Viviane Reding, who as Commission vice president in 2014 helped create the rule of law procedure, said the EU shouldn’t let Poland’s “authoritarian drift” continue.
“In no way does this amount to interfering in Poland’s internal matters,” Reding, now an MEP, said in an emailed statement, referring to the Commission’s probe. “Our common Treaty values, such as the respect for the Rule of Law, are indivisible: if one Member State disrespects those values, this regards all of us.”
Alain Lamassoure, a center-right French MEP who serves on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said the Polish situation was of serious concern because “it is one among other examples in the EU of the rise of extremist and populist parties which have prospered on hatred and xenophobia. So dealing with it is extremely delicate.”
For now, Lamassoure said, the EU has acted in a “skilled” way, partly by outsourcing at least some of the sterner criticism of Poland to a non-EU source, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. In March, the legal advisory panel issued a report saying that Poland’s changes to its constitutional court “endanger not only the rule of law, but also the functioning of the democratic system.”
Some hold out hope that a global spotlight on Poland, for example during the July NATO summit in Warsaw, will put more pressure on the government to step into line. “If we have the Commission, the European Parliament, and [Barack] Obama raising concerns about the Polish government, we hope that it will result in the country’s progressive isolation,” Lamassoure said.
The trump card for Brussels, Lamassoure said, could be the €14 billion Warsaw nets annually from the bloc, as the largest beneficiary of the EU budget.
“Poland needs the Commission on coal, energy, and the financial framework,” an EU official said.
Though sanctions in the form of cuts to Polish subsidies as part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy or any structural funds are unlikely to take place, the Commission could carry out “a very deep scrutiny of the way the funds are asked and used,” a European diplomat said.
“It would be very easy for the Commission to act this way, it would not require any formal decision and at that point for Warsaw it would be very hard to continue being a successful recipient of these funds,” the diplomat said. “That’s the only fear of the [Polish government], an economic retaliation which, according to them, will take form in this way.”
For critics, the approach of the Commission is misleading, and might stir up more hostility against the EU in Poland.
“It’s not clever what is the European Commission is doing,” said an Eastern European diplomat. “The more public pressure they create, the more difficult it is for the Polish government to make any concession. This could be solved in an easier way. I’m afraid that this offensive approach can prolong the case.”
The situation in Poland is different to Hungary, where the Commission launched several infringement procedures including on judiciary and financial changes following Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s rise to power in 2010. Diplomats said Orbán found a way to play ball with Brussels and stay in the mainstream European People’s Party group, while still striking an often defiant tone at home.
“Orbán made much more sensible moves, he played it much better,” said another European diplomat.
The European Commission has threatened the two central European states with financial penalties if they block the creation of a public prosecutor tasked with fighting corruption.
Solidarity is a fundamental principle of the European Union, reflected in the aid money that is transferred to the bloc’s less developed member states every year.
Corruption, however, threatens to undermine this core European value. Last year, at least €638 million ($682 million) in structural funds were misappropriated and those are only the known cases. The true figure could be much higher.
The problem is even more pronounced when it comes to revenue from sales tax. Taken together, the E.U. member states lose €50 billion in revenue every year due to fraud.
The European Commission could impose financial penalties on Poland and Hungary if they block the creation of a European public prosecutor, the E.U. justice commissioner told Handelsblatt.
“It’s fair to say that participation in the European public prosecutor’s office should play a role in negotiations over structural funds,” said Vera Jourova.
The public prosecutor’s office would investigate financial crimes against the European Union, such as the embezzlement of structural funds and sales tax.
Ms. Jourova said Poland and Hungary should support such an office because they receive more in aid from the European Union than they pay into the budget.
Last year, the known cases in which structural funds were misappropriated amounted to €638 million ($682 million). The actual figure could be even higher. Sales tax fraud across the European Union has been estimated at €50 billion per year.
The E.U. member states have been discussing the establishment of a public prosecutor since 2013. So far, 20 of the 28 member states support the creation of such an office, according to Handelsblatt sources in the E.U. diplomatic community.
Those opposed, including the Netherlands and Sweden, argue the public prosecutor would infringe on their national sovereignty.