Angela Merkel will put herself on a collision course with Emmanuel Macron as she calls for European Union leaders to back down in the rule-of-law battle with Poland amid mounting fears the dispute could collapse the bloc.
Her intervention, at what will be her 107th and potentially last European Council summit, will pit her directly against President Macron, leaders of the Benelux countries and the European Parliament, who have all called for the European Commission to use its “conditionality mechanism” to withhold tens of billions of euros in EU funding.
European leaders are set to clash with Poland later today over its alleged abuse of the EU’s democratic values, after the country’s constitutional court ruled that its rules have supremacy over the bloc’s laws.
“Germany does not want to have a Polexit,” Mrs Merkel will tell her counterparts, according to sources close to the chancellor. “Poland’s place is in the middle of Europe.”
The veteran leader is expected to quash any attempts to launch punitive sanctions against Warsaw, and instead push for a more reflective discussion over “what does sovereignty mean in the EU”.
She will also urge counterparts to wait for the European Court of Justice to rule on a challenge, by Poland and Hungary, against the “conditionality mechanism” before taking action.
“We should wait for the ruling before we act,” a senior source said. “It is not a rule of law mechanism, it is a mechanism to protect the financial interests of the EU.”
France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands will lead calls for Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission’s president, to make use of its powers to punish Poland over its alleged defiance of EU standards.
Ahead of the summit, Clement Beaune, France’s Europe minister, warned Warsaw it faced potential financial sanctions if it continued to oppose the primacy of EU law.
“It cannot be cheese and dessert,” he told broadcaster LCI, a reference to British demands to 'have their cake and eat it' during Brexit negotiations. “When you don’t respect the rules, you can’t benefit from the advantages of Europe. The British tried and we didn’t let them get their way.”
“European treaties are political values that protect all Europeans. You choose them in a sovereign fashion. In Poland, it happened via a referendum,” he added. “Nobody forces you to enter the European Union. You can even leave it, we saw it democratically with Brexit.”
While he said he didn’t think Poland wished to leave, it was “taking a risk by not applying common rules of placing itself outside (the EU)”.
The Macron administration's hard-line over Poland comes as the French president is facing calls from various right-wing and far-right rivals for French laws to take primacy over EU ones with just six months to go before presidential elections.
David Sassoli, the European Parliament's president, yesterday threatened to sue Mrs von der Leyen unless she triggers the mechanism to withhold EU cash from Warsaw.Internet Explorer Channel Network