EU on brink: Brussels faces new splinter as Poland to withdraw from key treaty

The European Union on Sunday was informed Poland is planning to withraw its signature from the common domestic violence treaty. The Instanbul Convention was created with the aim of preventing violence against woment and domestic violence, and was signed a ratified in a majority of EU member states. But Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was re-elected earlier this month, confirmed his country is planning to leave the treaty.

According to Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro the convention is “harmful” because it would require the educational system to include lessons on gender.

Mr Ziobro said during the announcement: “This ideological element is linked to the imperative to change education in school and outside-of-school programmes in terms of learning attitutdes.

“Convictions of the young Polish generation of students to make, in our opinion, the false assumption that biological sex is archaic and, in fact, it all comes down to the socio-cultural gender.”

Mr Ziobro said he would formally make a move to withdraw Poland from the treaty this weekend.

JUST IN: EU on brink: Brussels faces new splinter as Poland withdraws from key treaty

The Council of Europe, which brings together 47 European countries and first drew up the Istanbul Convention, admitted to feeling “alarmed” by Warsaw’s announcement.

In a statement released following the Mr Ziobro’s statement, the Council’s secretary-general Marija Pejčinović Burić said: “Leaving the Istanbul convention would be highly regrettable and a major step backwards in the protection of women against violence in Europe.

“If there are any misconceptions or misunderstandings about the convention, we are ready to clarify them in a constructive dialogue.”

Protesters took to the streets soon after the news broke, with over 2,000 people holding a demonstration in front of the headquarters of right-wing party Ordo Luris, which supports plans to withdraw. 

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Former Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, who now leads the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, expressed his solidarity to protesters on Twitter.

Mr Ciolos said: “Using the fight against the Istanbul convention as an instrument to display its conservatism is a new pitiful and pathetic move by some within the PiS government.”

The sentiment of support was echoed by other MEPs, including Guy Verhofstadt who branded the decision as “scandalous” and remarked “violence is not a traditional value.”

While the treaty is not a requirement of EU membership, the decision to withdraw is set to put Poland further at odds with the union after years of clashes between Brussels and Warsaw.

Oh dear, Brussels! Von der Leyen’s coronavirus bailout plot could be DERAILED by EU treaty

Article 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union says that neither the EU nor individual member states can be liable for the debts of other governments. So-called debt mutualisation is therefore not allowed. Yet southern EU states such as Italy and Spain have repeatedly called for the adoption of joint debt instruments to finance the recovery. Speaking to, Brexiteer Alice Grant claimed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s plan to save the eurozone from a coronavirus-inflicted financial crisis has the real aim of a closer than ever fiscal union. 

She said: “The EU are headed towards a fiscal union with this idea of a bailout of over €500 billion which is actually banned in their own treaty.

“The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union says the European Union shouldn’t be borrowing this vast sum of money.

“Yet they are going ahead and doing this because the only thing they care about is saving their project which is headed for economic disaster.

“They shall continue pushing for this closer and closer union on the nation state despite everything.

“And I think this is why for the second time in a decade we are going to see a crisis in the eurozone.”

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The European Commission has put forward a blueprint, largely based on a Franco-German proposal, for the so-called pandemic recovery fund.

But now friction has emerged between European capitals as President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel prompt a hasty response from the rest of the bloc.

On Tuesday, President Macron travelled to the Netherlands in a bid to convince Mark Rutte to come on board with his plan.

The Dutch prime minister is an outspoken critic of the proposal, insisting on a drastic rethink before it can be rolled out.

The proposed package consists of €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans.

A Nordic diplomat told the Politico website: “The more the big two come with a take-it-or-leave-it package, the harder it makes life for the other countries.

“No country will agree to be a cheerleader for the big two countries.”

The so-called “Frugal Four” – Denmark, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands – have been the most vocal opponents to the plan.

An EU official said: “The Frugal Four are not very homogeneous.”

They also accused the fiscally conservative northern states of poisoning the atmosphere with attacks on their southern partners.

“Austria will be extremely flexible in the end, but Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s rude rhetoric has toxified the whole climate,” the official said.