Europe of Human Rights

Yesterday (6 July 2011) Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk addressed the European Parliament to present the program of the EU Polish presidency for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

His speech was full of references to the history and the rule of the integration to bypass economic and political crisis during the last 50 years. He referred to the great role played by the EP in the European integration and the expansion of common values. He expressed his hope that the current crisis of the EU might be overcome thanks to solidarity. A lot of effort has been put into integration it should be followed through. Working on the deepening of the integration should be a tool of overcoming the current European crisis.

An extended part of Donald Tusk speech referred to the migration crisis in Europe and the debates on Schengen. The economic and migration crisis might not be bypassed by the construction of frontiers and building barriers inside the EU. The Polish Presidency will work for maximum freedom within the community, but on the other hand, safeguarding the external borders of EU in order to increase the security of the EU citizens. Therefore, strengthening of the external borders and the role of FRONTEX will be be a priority.

The Polish Prime Minister mentioned that, on the other hand, the multitude of migrants coming to Europe should be a signal for its citizens that the standards of living remains good here. This is because of the values on which Europe was built. Therefore maintaining the Schengen area, combined with stricter controls on the external borders will be a priority of the Polish Presidency. Moreover, openness for neighbors and candidates countries should remain a priority.

Donald Tusk presented in his speech an extremely enthusiastic vision of Poland and its role in the Presidency. We should keep in mind that we witnessed similar declarations six months ago, when Hungary was taking the Presidency. However, no actions in respect of ensuring more liberties within the EU were undertaken. We might even say that we faced a regress in that respect, due to the decision of the European Council of 24 June, introducing exceptional internal borders controls. With such a baggage, the role to play by Poland would be even more ambitious. Moreover, Poland may not overcome the crisis alone and should be followed by the rest of the EU. By now however, the environment is extremely unfavorable to the Polish proposals.

The upcoming six months will prove whether today’s optimism related to the extremely good mood and self-esteem of the Prime Minister or to the real enthusiasm related to Polish Presidency.

Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, Coordinator of “Europe of Human Rights”

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