Juncker pledges to use new powers to block the far-right

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Offline the leveller

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Juncker pledges to use new powers to block the far-right
« on: May 30, 2016, 04:13:37 PM »
Juncker pledges to use new powers to block the far-right

Thanks for the article on the referendum count, the article below (and one in the Times behind their paywall, puts this in further context.


The Times new website makes it VERY hard to copy, paste and forward. Part of the same closing down of debate as the EU.

The EU will isolate and use sanctions against any far-right or populist governments that are swept to power or presidential office on the wave of popular anger against migration.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, made clear at the weekend that Norbert Hofer would have been frozen out of EU decision-making if he had been elected president of Austria. “There is no debate or dialogue with the far-right,” Mr Juncker said.

Under powers given to the commission in 2014, he can trigger a “rule of law mechanism” for countries that depart from democratic norms by putting a government under constitutional supervision. Ultimately, a country can be stripped of voting rights in the EU or have funding blocked.

In a test run for the new EU constitutional powers, the commission has issued unprecedented orders to Poland, instructing the newly elected right-wing government to bow to Polish judges who have struck down laws passed by the parliament.

Mr Hofer had alarmed the EU by threatening to politicise the office of Austrian president by wielding powers, never used before, to trigger national elections at a moment most favourable for the far-right Freedom party (FPO). “You’ll be surprised at all the things that are possible,” he said before the vote. Though he lost narrowly, Austria witnessed the biggest far-right surge in Europe since the Second World War.

The FPO is the largest party after the collapse of the Social Democrats (SPO) and People’s party (OVP), the centre-right and centre-left parties that have ruled Austria between them since 1945.

Mr Hofer repeatedly threatened to use presidential powers to dissolve the current SPO-OVP coalition government, which is racked by turmoil.

He said in a newspaper interview in March that, as president, he would dismiss the government if it did not stop the influx of refugees, 90,000 of whom reached Austria last year, and if it failed to alter its economic policies.

Mr Hofer carries an Austrian-made Glock 9mm pistol because, he explains, of “uncertainty” caused by Muslim immigration. The FPO deputy leader is regarded as more moderate than Heinz-Christian Strache, the party’s firebrand figurehead, but his views are every bit as radical. In beer hall speeches he has railed about the “invasion of the Muslims”.

Mr Hofer has warned that not all the refugees who have come to Austria are friendly and that some “are prepared to cut off another person’s head”.

The EU faces the rise of other far-right parties, including the National Front in France and Geert Wilders’s Freedom party in the Netherlands.

The deadline passed yesterday for Poland to back down in the government’s confrontation with the constitutional court. In January Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s “first vice-president” in charge of humans rights, announced that he was triggering, for the first time, the EU’s “rule of law mechanism” over Poland.

Talks have remained deadlocked since then as Beata Szydlo, the Polish prime minister whose Law and Justice party is affiliated to the British Tories, has grown increasingly enraged at lectures from Brussels.

The row began when President Duda of Poland, who is allied to the Law and Justice party, refused to swear in three constitutional court judges. Then, in March, the constitutional court struck down a law rushed through parliament restricting the powers of the judiciary over the Polish government. The government ignored the ruling, provoking street protests and condemnation in Brussels, with the looming threat of an explicit EU diktat to Poland instructing the country’s parliament to back down.

Hungary, which has also been criticised by the commission over constitutional questions, has pledged to fight alongside Poland to defend parliamentary sovereignty.

The EU’s determination to head off and to keep in check far-right and populist governments could backfire. Witold Waszczykowski, the Polish foreign minister, said that the new powers went beyond the terms of the EU that his country joined in 2004. “This is not the union, not the kind of membership that we have agreed to,” he said.

Source--The Times

« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 04:20:25 PM by the leveller »

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