Crunch time, Ursula! Von der Leyen faces year of HELL as ‘biggest test of mandate’ looms

Ursula Von Der Leyen praises France for displaying EU flags

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The news comes as further tension is predicted between the bloc and its rising numbers of dissatisfied members, of which Poland appears to be a major contender. The blatant disregard shown for the rule of law, media pluralism and other fundamental rights in Poland and Hungary, together with slippage in a few other capitals, has created a dangerous rift in the EU.

Taking to Twitter to discuss the situation, political commentator Mujtaba Rahman said: “I’d say protecting the EU legal order is not just a ‘big’ test for von der Leyen – it is the test of her mandate, and certainly for 2022.”

He added: “No quick resolution seems likely.”

Speaking of the ongoing situation, an FT column said: “Unless this rot is soon fixed, it will seriously corrode solidarity among member states, weaken the union’s legal order — and therefore the single market — and hamper the union’s effectiveness at a time of greater challenges.”

It added: “How the EU, particularly Brussels and Berlin, handle this debilitating fracture will be a defining issue for 2022 with consequences well beyond.”

With Poland seeking sovereignty over its legal and constitutional rights, some have questioned whether the EU should assert its supranational grip over Warsaw.

Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has asked a Polish court to rule on whether a mechanism linking European Union funds to rule of law is compatible with the country’s constitution.

He said: “The European conditionality mechanism is intrinsically very dangerous. It allows the European Commission, for arbitrary political unchecked reasons, to use blackmail and even extreme economic violence.”

Mr Ziobro added: “That’s why I decided to refer the matter to Poland’s Constitutional Court.”

For the European Union, however, it sees the resolution of the problem solvable should Poland follow three demands set out by Brussels.

They include scrapping the disciplinary chamber, changing the disciplinary rules and reinstating dismissed judges.

Poland seems to agree with the first demand but has rejected the second two.

In fact, Warsaw has gone on to suggest the notion of further reforms of the supreme and lower courts, which causes grave concern for Von der Leyen and the corridors of power in Brussels.

The FT argued: “The handling of this issue is set to one of the biggest leadership tests so far for Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president.”

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Much like her mentor Angela Merkel, Ms von der Leyen is keen to avoid an East-West divide within the EU.

Already multiple EU member nations have stated that there is a stark difference between Western and Eastern Europe.

Inequality over financial resources, political sway and social interaction have seen many smaller Eastern EU states question their loyalty and commitment to Brussels.

Speaking of the resilience demonstrated by the European Union, the FT said: “The commission’s reticence in the past has only emboldened the autocrats.”

It added: “At the same time, channels for dialogue must be kept open. Ultimately, the dispute will require a political rather than legal solution.”

Poland’s government will relish a clash with Brussels and complain it is the victim of EU over-reach.

In reality, this is about the ruling party’s domestic excesses.

The article ends by suggesting: “Poles sadly will pay the price for it while their country is being marginalised in Europe.”

With the EU now facing a period of significant challenges in 2022, from an energy crisis, to post Brexit relations, as well as from internal disillusion and the dealing of a power vacuum vacated by Ms Merkel, the road ahead for Ms Von der Leyen in 2022 will make or break the commissioner’s legacy.

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