Dr. Maria SkóraTeam
Recent change of government in Poland mobilised many people, the spectrum of civil engagement is however polarised: from defenders of liberal values and adherents of conservative agenda to followers of nationalist resentments.
Representatives of civil society and academics from Poland, Germany and other European countries joined a Polish-German seminar in Wroclaw on 20-21 October in search for answers to the question of what role civil society plays at the political scene in Europe today. It seems that nowadays the notion of Europe has been undermined by an economic crisis, followed by a humanitarian one, resulting from inability to handle of the influx of refugees in Europe. Fundamental European values are questioned. European political culture is currently in need of a new approach and civil engagement. It seems, however, that the notion of “civil society” needs redefinition per se to support European democracies. Radical and populist movements win popularity in many European countries, posing a threat to democratic order. Is the democratic order in danger? Is the pluralist political culture of Europe sustainable?
The development of Poland since the EU accession in 2004 was often seen as a pioneering example for the recent history of the European integration, sending an important political signal for a common European future. In particular, Germany and Poland strove in numerous bilateral initiatives not only to develop closer political cooperation, but also to intensify their cultural exchange.
In summarizing the results of last year’s parliamentary elections in Poland I briefly mentioned that “the rule of Catholic conservatives might stand in opposition to respecting the rights of women “. It took less than a year for this prophecy to come true. Thousands of women in Poland are joining Black Protests to demonstrate against the newest radical anti-abortion law proposal.
In October 2015 the Civic Platform (PO) lost the parliamentary elections in Poland, after having been in power for 8 continuous years. The tables have turned, allowing the national-conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) to form a majority government. Ever since, the PiS – which has president Andrzej Duda already on their side – keeps on petrifying its power while promising „good change“.
In the context of the current refugee crisis the relationship between the Eastern and Western EU member states has become strained. In her contribution, Maria Skóra analyzes Central and Eastern European reactions to the refugee crisis. As conservative nationalism spiced with right-wing populism is on the rise in Central-Eastern Europe, the prospects for coordinated European immigration policies look very grim, indeed.
Die Staaten Mittel- und Osteuropas in der Europäischen Union haben hauptsächlich Austeritätspolitiken und Strukturreformen als Antwort auf die globale Finanzkrise durchgeführt. Diese hatten negative Auswirkungen auf die soziale Gerechtigkeit. Es bedarf eines europäischeren Ansatzes in der Sozial- und Fiskalpolitik, um diese Schieflage in der Entwicklung auszugleichen, argumentiert Maria Skóra in ihrem Discussion Paper.
The Central and Eastern European member states of the European Union (EU) predominantly reacted to the global financial crisis by implementing austerity policies and structural reforms, which have had negative repercussions for social justice. To counter this unfortunate development, this paper argues for a more European approach to both social and fiscal policy: in particular, a shift from passive social policy measures to a preventive approach based on social investment. Economic policy tools, such as a European minimum wage or a more universal approach to social benefits administration, could help prevent income poverty and social dumping, as well as foster regional investment. In order to cushion the regional consequences of asymmetrical monetary shocks, greater financial capabilities on the part of the EU are needed. This must be complemented by effective measures countering tax evasion practices and corruption. All of this demands a careful rethinking of the EU’s social and economic principles says Dr. Maria Skóra.