Against two-speed Europe

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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