As Britain is about to leave European Union this month officially, East and West is seeming in schism about this matter.
On one side, Brussels is resigned to losing part of the EU’s western flank but is increasingly stressed that upset in the east is pulling the survivors further apart. On the other side, Poland, the biggest of the ex-communist eastern states to join after the Cold War, has picked a fight over the fairly minor matter of who chairs EU summits. Symptomatic of a mounting east-west friction, the spat will overshadow a meeting this week that was meant to forge post-Brexit unity. Chancellor Angela Merkel, raised in East Germany and a key defender of eastern allies, joined her French, Italian and Spanish peers at Versailles on Monday to ram home a message that unless some states press ahead the EU will stall and break, Polish ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski hit right back.
Brexit deprives the easterners, unwilling to see diktat from Brussels or Berlin replace rule from Moscow, of their strongest ally against EU centralization and euro zone domination. On Friday, leaders will work on plans for a March 25 summit in Rome where they hope to use 60th anniversary celebrations of the bloc’s founding treaty to pledge a new unity after Brexit.