Fears of illiberal Central Europe axis ‘overblown’?


Poland’s crackdown on the judiciary and public media, emulating Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s accumulation of power, has raised fears in the European Union of a new illiberal axis based on the Visegrad group of central European states, Reuters reports:

The perception of a populist wave of Eurosceptic nationalism sweeping central Europe strengthened last year when the four states united to oppose being forced to take mandatory quotas of refugees flooding into the EU. The former Polish government did eventually agree to accept a share on a voluntary basis.

The October election victory of Polish conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice (PiS) party with its Eurosceptic rhetoric and moves to shackle the constitutional court and public media, combined with talk of building up the Visegrad group, raised warning flags in Brussels and Berlin.

But diplomats say that beyond an occasional joint effort to block an unpopular EU policy, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have too little in common to form a coherent bloc to resist deeper EU integration or dismantle liberal values, the report adds:

They differ on such major issues as relations with Russia – their former communist master – ties with Germany, membership of the euro currency and the place of religion in their societies.  Nearly 12 years after they joined the EU, the four states have little interest in being lumped together in the eyes of investors as an awkward squad of ex-communist countries.


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