By Julian E. Barnes
The Polish election on Sunday will color much of the coming week, with broad implications for both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Civic Platform, the party formed by European Council President Donald Tusk that has been in power since 2007, is widely expected to lose. Law and Justice, the party of Polish President Andrzej Duda, has been ahead in the polls. Law and Justice has taken a skeptical view of proposals by EU countries to take in migrants and favors higher taxes on banks. Law and Justice has also promised to raise defense spending and increase the size of the army, saying the country needs to boost its defenses in the face of a more aggressive Russia. The party has also said it would push for permanent NATO bases in Poland, a request that is unlikely to get much traction in the alliance.
Sunday afternoon, leaders of the European countries most affected by migration will gather for a mini-summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for the gathering, which will be hosted by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and attended by European Council President Donald Tusk. According to a draft of Mr. Juncker’s proposal, leaders from 10 nations along the main migrant route into Europe will be asked to stop waving people through, fingerprint everyone who enters their territory and deploy 400 border guards to Slovenia.
Also on Monday, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova will present to the European Parliament the commission’s views on the recent decision by the European Union’s top court to scrap a trans-Atlantic data-transfer pact, known as Safe Harbor. Ms. Jourova is expected to outline the steps ahead in the negotiations between the EU and U.S. to replace the framework — which could provide some scraps of certainty for businesses still reeling from the court’s decision.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits Brussels on Monday for meetings with European Union leaders, including Federica Mogherini, the foreign policy chief. In the face of violence in Jerusalem, EU officials have been trying to restart the mideast peace process. Ms. Mogherini has said that she will press Mr. Abbas to do what he can to deescalate the violence.
EU environment ministers will discuss the Volkswagen scandal and efforts to make tests for car emissions more accurate in Luxembourg on Monday. On Wednesday, experts from national transport ministries are expected to vote on a new proposal from the European Commission on the so-called real driving emissions testing procedure. That proposal will set out from when emissions tests conducted on the road, rather than in laboratories, will become the decisive factor for the approval of new cars and by how much emissions can exceed EU limits on nitrogen oxides and other harmful substances.
The week ahead will also see two important ruling by Europe’s second highest court. On Monday, the General Court will issue a judgement in the first case relating to European sanctions that resulted from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The judgement to be issued Monday involves an an advisor to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukoyvch, Andriy Portnov. While Mr. Portnov was removed from the list of sanctioned individuals in March, the case revolves around the earlier sanctions against him. Later in the week, on Wednesday, the General Court will hear a case related to asset freezes made in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The court has previously thrown out those asset freezes, only to have the EU try to reimpose them under new rules.
On Wednesday and Thursday the top military officers of the EU will gather in Brussels. On the agenda is the EU’s approach to Africa and the migrant crisis. European navies are currently taking part in Operation Sophia, an attempt to intercept ships smuggling migrants in the Mediterranean. The gathering comes as U.S. officials are trying to increase pressure on European militaries to do more to coordinate the EU’s military deployments–mainly focused on Africa–with NATO’s.