epa10381440 European Commission critical of Poland on rule of law again EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET


Poland smells a rat in EC proposal for Migration Pact opt-outs

The Polish government is suspicious about suggestions in Brussels regarding amendments to the European Union’s proposed Migration Pact.


The Polish government is suspicious about suggestions in Brussels regarding amendments to the European Union’s proposed Migration Pact.

These include the possibility that countries that have already accepted a million refugees may be exempt from the pact’s policies. However, Poland feels the move is designed to make it accept the proposed legislation and to head off a planned Polish referendum on the issue.

According to sources close to the European Commission, the changes would allow Warsaw to apply for an exemption. The Polish government has already stated it will not participate in the pact and that it would rather pay resulting penalties of €22,000 for every migrant it rejects. The leader of the ruling Conservative PiS has also called for Poland to hold a referendum on the matter.

Poland and Hungary voted against the pact’s provision of the compulsory relocation of illegal migrants in a Council of the European Union ballot but the measure was approved under the EU’s qualified majority system. Poland has demanded that the matter become the subject of a debate in the European Council, where decisions have to be taken in unanimity.

The suggested proposal to allow countries that have accepted a million refugees to be able to opt out of the pact could allow Poland to avoid both the relocation of migrants and any fines for rejecting them. However, the EC will have the discretionary power over any opt-out and there would also have to be unanimous confirmation by the European Council.

Sources close to the PiS suspect any such proposal may be an EC manoeuvre similar to one it made over the conditionality mechanism regarding the release of EU funds. In that case, in order for rules on post-pandemic funds and the EU budget to be passed, the EC promised Poland and Hungary that the mechanism would only be used when there was suspicion of financial malpractice. However, the EC used it to block funding for both Poland and Hungary on the grounds of infringements against the rule of law.

Poland’s former Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, on June 19 pointed to the fact that the new suggestions emanating from Brussels came just days after the PiS had announced it would hold a referendum. She said that indicated an attempt to head off the vote.

In what may be a sign of just how determined the PiS is to make migration a key issue in this autumn’s Polish parliamentary elections, Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki,  announced the country will seek the extradition of a Bangladeshi man suspected of murdering a Polish woman in Greece.

Morawiecki wants the alleged perpetrator to “stand before a Polish court and receive the highest possible sentence” in a case that has incensed the Polish public. The country’s deputy justice minister, Michał Woś, has linked the case to the fact that Greece has become a primary destination for migrants and asylum seekers.

Also on June 19, Poland’s state broadcaster, TVP, reported that the 27-year-old Polish woman strangled by the suspect, who is now under arrest, was probably the victim of a gang rape after her drink was spiked.

The woman, who worked in a restaurant on the Greek island of Kos, was reported missing on June 12 and her naked body was discovered in a sack dumped in bushes six days later.