Against two-speed Europe
At a speech on Friday, President Duda said the EU project was in danger, and pointed out that in seeking solutions for the challenges the EU is facing, politicians should be careful not to “break up the fragile European unity”.
This is not the first time that Duda has warned against a Union of two or multiple speeds. Poland and other eastern EU members like the Czech Republic that have not yet joined the eurozone are concerned that the 19-member single currency grouping could integrate deeply and quickly, leaving them far behind.
“I have no doubts that the agreement to maintain a hierarchic design of a two-speed Europe will result in an internal and external weakening of the community, it will also strengthen disintegration tendencies, undermining the main achievements of European integration: the Schengen area and the four freedoms of the single market: freedom of movement of persons, goods and capital,” the Polish president warned.
In his view, the community must again become a source of freedom and unity rather than of limitations and divisions.
“The EU needs more democracy and respect for democratic elections of European nations. To achieve this, it must return to its roots, to the model of a community of free nations and equal states,” he argued in front of an audience of students from diverse European backgrounds.
“Europe’s strength lies in its people. It is written in the DNA of its citizens,” Duda added. as “the entire Eastern European region is not yet part of the European Community”.
Poland is an ardent advocate of Ukraine joining the EU, although the majority of EU members do not want to touch the issue, as further EU enlargement has become unfashionable with the advent of the Juncker Commission.
Duda also expressed doubts as to whether the “shadow of Cold War divisions” might not yet have been overcome entirely in the perception of all European societies: “Shouldn’t a united Europe make more use of the initiatives, the energy and the optimism of Central European citizens?,” the president asked, noting that there were still many stereotypes and false perceptions about the countries of the eastern region.
He referred to the Three Seas Initiative as an example of an “ambitious” programme for cooperation between Central and South European countries seeking to catch up with development delays.
“We do not want to be the sole beneficiaries of European unity, we want to creatively promote and strengthen it for the benefit of the whole European Union,” Duda insisted.
The “Three Seas Initiative” is a recent pro-Atlantic project which also comprises the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia. A summit of the initiative was
held in Warsaw in July.