Merkel Seeks EU Solution in Rule of Law Conflict With Poland
(Bloomberg) -- Angela Merkel will work to resolve the conflict between Poland and the European Union over the application of the rule of law, the outgoing German chancellor said, addressing a rocky relationship after the neighboring country slipped away from the trading bloc mainstream during her 16-year tenure.
“I will try to engage personally in solving the issues”, Merkel said in what was probably her last official visit to Warsaw after meeting with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Saturday.
Merkel’s chancellorship has almost spanned Poland’s EU membership after the largest post-communist nation joined in 2004. The chancellor has contended with the rise of the nationalist Law and Justice party, headed by Poland’s de facto leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, straining to maintain ties with Warsaw even as the government wrested control over the justice system and the media.
While Poland’s 38 million people have remained largely enthusiastic about the nation’s membership in the 27-member bloc, the ruling party has continued to escalate a conflict with EU authorities over judicial independence, press freedom and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights.
The most recent spat with the EU Commission puts Poland’s access to 23.9 billion euros ($28.3 billion) of grants from the bloc’s pandemic stimulus plan on the line. Poland also faces EU fines for failing to meet an ultimatum to halt a controversial regime to discipline judges.
Since the collapse of communism, Germany has been Poland’s largest economic partner, buying a third of Polish exports, while imports from the western neighbor have climbed to account for a quarter of goods flowing into Poland.
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