Tackling rising populism and Euroscepticism

Exactly 60 years ago The Treaty of Rome, the was signed. An international agreement signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany, it proposed to create a single market for goods, labour, services, and capital across the EEC's member states. It remains one of the two most important treaties in the modern-day European Union.

European Unity Meeting in Gdansk
European Unity Meeting in Gdansk

I would like to celebrate the birthday of the European Union, as we know it, by sharing a few ideas from the document, issued earlier this month at the Mayors’ Summit on the Future of Europe organized by Eurocities. This year’s theme was: Tackling rising populism and Euroscepticism. In the document, written in a form of a letter to EU President Donald Tusk and Italian Prime Minister, the mayors of 34 big European cities call to the return to the core values. It is the ideas of respect, freedom, cohesion, solidarity, diversity, and equal opportunities that brought us together in the fifties. We must return to our original concepts, find the inspiring force again.

Progressing radicalisation of the government

In my address at the Mayors’ Summit, I presented an overall analysis of the threats hanging over Europe of that shape, the shape which has always been an unquestionable value and lay at the foundation of the European Union. Publishing my opinion here I also hope to initiate a debate among my readers.

Regretfully, I felt compelled to use examples of decisions and phenomena coming from my own country. I wanted to relate directly to the prime motif of the meeting, namely progressing radicalisation. What I mean is not necessarily radicalisation of the nation as such, but of the decisions made by the central government, which exert a tangible and utterly negative impact on abiding by such values as democracy, tolerance, openness, and self-governance.

With tremendous concern I listed during my speech the areas of our public life invaded and destroyed by the new, populist government in Poland. I mentioned the threats hanging over independence of the judiciary in Poland, the local government system, so diligently introduced and successfully implemented over the last 25 years in our country, and the individual’s freedom of choice, where the government’s tightening up of the anti-abortion law is an attempt at banning abortion altogether, even if the foetus is gravely damaged. We are seeing the closure of the in vitro subsidy programme. For the last year we have been watching in despair the war against the independence of our culture. One example of it is the governmental plan of merging the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk, with the haphazardly formed Museum of the Westerplatte and the War of 1939, a merely formal creation, clearly intended to enable the government to change the formula of the permanent exhibition. With the “new” education reform reversing the 3-tier system of primary, junior and high schools to a 2-tier one, we are truly watching the dismantling of our institutions.

Thankfully, we are starting to see more and more people join the protests on our streets, in schools and in the judiciary institutions. I strongly believe that Poland and Europe will defend the values which inspired our fathers in Rome in 1957: respect, freedom, cohesion, solidarity, diversity, and equal opportunities.

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