Poland is pushing the EU into crisis

Poland is changing. Every year the country celebrates its national
Independence Day in the capital, Warsaw. There are parades and speeches
But in 2017, Poland’s Independence Day made worldwide news because of these signs: 60,000 people showed up for a march led by
Nationalist and white-supremacist groups. That’s because they have reason to celebrate,
too. Poland’s right-wing political party, PiS,
is in power. After winning the Presidency and a majority
in Parliament, they’ve ignored the constitution, Taken over the courts, purged the military,
and cracked down on the media. PiS is bringing authoritarianism back to Poland
and openly rebelling against the European Union. It’s a shocking turn for a country that,
just a few years ago was hailed as one of Europe’s most promising young democracies. So, how did this happen? And can it be stopped? It was an old story to the Polish population
– conquest, subjugation, enslavement. it had happened before in Poland’s troubled
history but never with such inhumanity Poland had a traumatic 20th century. It was invaded twice during World War Two. First by the Germans and then by the Soviets…
…who re-established the country after the war, but as a communist state under their
control. In fact, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin directly
contributed to a draft of Poland’s constitution, which was formalized in 1952. These are his handwritten notes. For the next several decades, Poland developed
very little while it was cut off from the rest of the world. It became one of several Soviet-backed, communist
countries in Central and Eastern Europe that made up the Soviet bloc. That started to change in the 1980s. Polish unions started organizing huge strikes
against the communist government. The movement came to be called Solidarity
and it grabbed the attention of the world. In 1989, the communist government caved to
the pressure and agreed to let non-communist parties run in the elections. Solidarity and democratic candidates went
on to win the majority of parliament and the presidency. They established the Republic of Poland and
became the first country in Europe to topple communism. The rest of the Soviet bloc soon followed. This posed a challenge for Western Europe. We cannot aim at anything less than the union
of Europe as a whole and we look with confidence for the day that union is achieved Since the end of World War Two, the continent’s
democracies had been growing closer; signing free trade deals that became the precursor
to today’s European Union. At first, the trade deals just covered coal
and steel, but as they grew to include agriculture, energy, and other markets, more countries
joined– making Europe more economically and politically integrated than it had ever been
before. As the former Soviet bloc countries started
establishing democracies of their own; Western Europe needed to find a way to include them. So in 1993, the established EU countries came
up with a strict checklist for admitting new members. New member-states needed to have a free market
economy, respect human rights and the rule of law. Meaning courts had to be independent and impartial–
so everyone could get a fair trial. These EU rules helped bring former-communist
countries in while also keeping them from sliding back into authoritarianism. They were designed to keep the peace in Europe. Poland joined the EU in 2004 and because of
Solidarity’s success it became one of the most promising new member. Poland was given more money than any other
EU country which it used to build highways, schools, hospitals, and modern infrastructure. The country’s economy grew more than any
other ex-communist country. Each year after it joined, Poland received
millions of Euros to help fund highways, schools, hospitals, and modern infrastructure. By 2014, Poland became one of the EU’s strongest
and most resilient members. It even avoided the recession in 2009 that
crippled economies worldwide. Polling showed 72% of Poles were satisfied
with EU membership. More than any other member state. Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski:
“Ladies & Gentleman, 10 years ago we joined the European Union. We did not become part of the EU on a whim. We became part of the union because we put
in tremendous efforts to build a democracy and a free market economy; two pillars of
a united Europe.” And Poland’s charismatic, pro-EU Prime minister,
Donald Tusk, was chosen to become president of the EU’s European Council. But in his absence, leaders with a very different
vision for Poland’s future rose to power. In 2015 PiS, Poland’s right-wing party,
shocked the world and won an absolute majority in the parliament. Since 2001, PiS had been led by former-Solidarity
leaders Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who felt that Poland’s center-left parties had become
elitist and corrupt. It appealed to Poland’s conservative population
in rural areas. PiS only earned 38% of the vote in 2015, on
par with the previous election results, but after Tusk left for the EU, his coalition
of center-left parties fell apart, making room for the right-wing party to take over.h According to PiS, after decades of Soviet
control, Poland was now being controlled by the EU. So when it came into power, it pledged to
take back Poland’s independence … legally or illegally. The party already controlled BOTH HOUSE OF
Parliament and the Presidency, so it initiated a hostile takeover of the judicial branch. First it packed this Constitutional court
with loyal judges and then forced out more than a third of the judges in this other court. Both acts were illegal under the Polish constitution,
but the PiS-majority parliament and Presidency signed them into law anyway. The party also fired over 11,000 civil-service
workers and at least 280 military officers, calling them ex-communists. It cracked down on the media. It started leveling fines on news organizations
when it didn’t like their coverage. Meanwhile, it’s been using Polish nationalism
to justify these moves. Remember this 2017 controversial march? A PiS politician called it “a beautiful
site” While the party cracked down on protests against
their authoritarian moves. As PiS tightened its grip on Poland, the EU
issued several warnings to stop it from breaking its rules…. But PiS ignored them. “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided
to initiate Article 7.1”, “But the facts leave us with no choice.” In December 2017, the EU invoked Article 7–
its nuclear option– for the first time in its history. It allows the EU to strip a member of its
voting rights if it feels it is breaking the criteria it established in 1993. // a significant number of laws have been
adopted… which put at serious risk the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers,
in Poland//. According to the EU, the PiS purging of the
courts violates the country’s commitment to respecting the rule of law. The problem for the EU is that Article 7 is
not going to work. The punishment requires a unanimous vote by
all EU countries — and there is one country that has sworn to protect Poland… Hungary, another former Soviet bloc country,
has taken a turn towards authoritarianism under President Viktor Orban. And he vowed to veto any punishment against
Poland. So PiS continues to systematically strip…
on Poland while still receiving huge sums of money from the EU. It’s proving that a member country can stay
in the EU, reap its economic benefits, while ignoring its rules on rule of law. PiS is proving that it’s possible to reap
the economic benefits of EU membership while flouting the rule of law. And that has sparked an existential crisis
for the EU… The rules that were written to prevent authoritarianism
from ever re-appearing in Europe, aren’t being followed, and there’s not much it
can do about it. The EU could try cutting off Poland’s funding
but it’s unclear how that would work. So for now, the EU remains in a crisis. For decades it’s tried to keep Europe democratic. But Poland, once the EU’s most promising
new addition, is Is now threatening to unravel the whole thing.

About the author


  1. Two corrections:

    At 7:17 Viktor Orban is incorrectly described as President, when he is actually the Prime Minister.
    At 5:27 and 7:32 Finland is mislabeled as not being a member state of the European Union. Finland joined the EU in 1995.


  3. Polish people are absolutely amazing people. They are everywhere around the world. However, they always love their heritage. They will sacrifice themselves for their proud nation. I agree, Poland is amazing. Their language, their culture, etc. I wish the best of luck for you Poles out there.

    You earn my respect from Armenia.

    Both countries, together to freedom.


  4. This shows that countries all round the world struggle to evolve and it is the people that need to succeed not the government.

  5. More to the point , WILL Poland back the UK and VETO the UK Parliament’s ‘ Surrender Letter’ asking for an extension to the A50 delivery date ?

  6. ugh a white nation advancing and gaining technological advancements at the speed the west was before they started focusing so much on diversity and replacing their population. How dare they?!

  7. EU democratic??? The unelected Commission with se!f appointed officers. The European Court of Justice appointed by that Commission? The toothless Parliament that can only rubber stamp the laws which can only be initiated by that Commission? Strange democracy that? Have they also changed the meaning of that word to Oligarchy now?


  9. Poles realise that Poland will mo longer be Poland, if it accepts immigration from the third world. Unlike the west, they haven't been forced in to silence over the lie of multiculturalism being a strength, when we all know it's a lie.
    If it wasin't for Merkel opening Europes borders to the world, Brexit would never have happened. Brexit happened because we have tasted multiculturalism and we don't want more of it, we want none of it.

  10. This is why the EU should never have control of an EU army because they would use it to subjugate democratically elected governments.

  11. Where's Israel's video? They're doing the same thing for the Jews. In fact they're actually killing Palestinians and expand their territory.

    Why the silence? Oh wait.

  12. Vox actually isn’t far left, it’s center left. The comment section here is disgusting. People cheering for white supremacists. Disgusting and absolutely revolting. I hope the EU takes the appropriate actions to keep Poland in check. Away from racism and authoritarianism.

  13. Why the left hates democracy and cant accept ANY victory from the rigth? They complain about Orban , PIS , Salvini , Trump , Bolsonaro , Macri , Le Pen……they only accept themself thats NO democratic at all !!!

  14. What do you mean "Poland’s far-right party is subverting democracy" ?! Thanks GOD They are doing it!
    Long LIve Sovereign Poland!Long LIve The Sovereign Nations of EUROPE!

  15. Each East European I speak to will not be dictated to from Brussels gastapo .
    Telling them who & what people they should take ( not taking people that don’ work or won’ t mix just take ).
    AND we All know who they are . Christian brothers

  16. to everybody who's saying that the polish people have a right to act like this:
    chill . Let poland government and poland citizens ALL OF THEM to decide whatever, not u ( unless you're polish)

  17. The only argument was the "attack" to the judicial power, and attack that wasnt an attack and wasnt illegal, because they changed the law.

  18. Hey Poland respect and support ! Don't become like France and Germany I'm from China I don't know if I was in Europe or Africa when I visited Paris. Preserve your race and culture

  19. I'm English and have a lot of respect for the Polish people. The ones I have met in the UK work Hard and are nice people. You now have a government that puts Poland first, EU ideas second. Good luck to you.

  20. I spent a month in Poland last year and it was really really cool super friendly to me “American” and ya they mostly seemed like they don’t trust the EU

  21. Why would they join EU in the first place if they don't agree with European ideas? Now that they got the European money and sent their migrants to our countries they want to go back to their backwards mentality.

  22. I am proud of you Poland is one of the best country in Europe for their people we all should learn from Poland what's the meaning of life

  23. Now I’m truly confused! The white race is solely responsible for creating the European culture but now the EU paints the white race as the enemy… really?

  24. Poland's change in politics was a direct result of EU corruption and their open door immigration and the islamification of Europe.

  25. Climate agreements are not being respected. The Turow 2020 Polish lignite coal mine was to end in Central Europe, but now it is planned to extend its operation until 2043. The Turow power plant burns low-bitumen lignite coal(lignit). Near Power Station Turow, coal is mined at Turow Mine. In the Turow mine, our Czech underground water disappears.
    Power Station Turow is the 11 largest in the world. It has installed capacity of 2160 MW distributed on 9 turbines of 3 x 325 MW, 3 x 261 MW and 3 x 206 MW respectively.
    The total CO2 emissions in 2008 were approx. 12 880 000 tonnes. In the 1970s and 1980s 19, the Polish power plant destroyed the immissions of the Jizera Mountains
    Poland organizes various climate conferences, but on the other hand, when it is supposed to close the Turow power plant by agreement, it plans to extend its operations by 2043
    The company operating the Polish power plant Turów is 53% owned by the Polish state. The Polish power plant Turów lies near the border from the Czech Republic and Germany. The territory of the Czech Republic is higher than the Turów coal mine and groundwater flows into the coal mine. Water from coal mine is pumped 120 liters per second into the river Nisa. Czech government geologists specialists have proven that water flows to the Polish mine Turów.
    Nevertheless, the land use plan town Bogatynia was illegally approved without Czech objections.

  26. Go poland don't bend over to EU or yoy will be like SWEDEN GERMANY UK and others, fucktup whit muslambs , this it's from a braziliam that's enjoy freedon .

  27. Poland isn’t the issue, Brexit, the refugee crisis, the euros weakness, the anti democratic leaders and the isolation from the rest of the world are the issues.

  28. Hahahahha. Chyba w Polsce nie byłeś. To unia europejska ciągle coś gada. Jak próbujemy zrobić coś dobrze to oni od razu że nie ma demokracji a jakiś we Francji pałować mogą!

  29. Dears Vox deleting comments. I'm Polish and there is nothing wrong here. We are independend finally. And our goverment is focused to Polish development. Court is cleaned from old comunist corupted judges, that is the truth

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