Poland and the EU Commission

Sir, – German chancellor Angela Merkel's intervention in the stand-off between the European Commission and Poland ("EU leaders attempt to talk down Poland from challenge", October 22nd) may well prove to be her greatest service to Europe. She has hauled the EU mainstream and Poland, supported by Hungary, back from a crisis that threatens to split the European Union.

In unambiguously pointing to the need for dialogue to resolve the present impasse, rather than confrontation and threats of retribution, Dr Merkel has highlighted the importance of the search for the via media [the middle road]. It used to be what set the EU– formerly known as the European Community – apart.

She has gone further by acknowledging that the stand-off is symptomatic of a much deeper problem that “is also being discussed in other member states”.

That is an extraordinarily honest, insightful – and concerning – admission. The EU has been chronically reluctant to critique what it is about and where it is going. It has backed off challenging itself, preferring institutional “mission creep” and the safety of dead as ditchwater “consultations” with elites.


This mindset does not pick up on disenchanted and dissonant voices across member states, dismissing them ex-post as “populism”. That has now caught up with the EU establishment. Dr Merkel points towards a way forward – the hard grind of dialogue rather than the less than mature rhetoric of sanctions.

An honest engagement that is not choreographed from the centre may well provide the context for resolving the present crisis. It may also be the catharsis that the EU so urgently needs to reform and redefine itself and restore credibility and trust in its institutions.

If so, it will be to the credit of Dr Merkel.

– Yours, etc,


Ashford, Co Wicklow.