Illusions and reality
Poland is already at enmity with the European Union in almost all directions. From sabotaging the EU’s green transition, which could bury the Polish coal industry, and Germany’s criticism of Nord Stream 2, to migrants and ideological conflict. Cherry on the cake – The Polish Constitutional Court has now recognized the primacy of Polish law over EU law.
This is a very unpleasant precedent that hinders the plans of Brussels and Berlin behind it to sharply deepen integration after the British exit. This means the continuation of the destruction of the European Union. If London has slammed the door, then Warsaw is slamming and does not think (too expensive) and undermines the situation from within, openly rejecting the EU’s supranational claims. This is another test for the European Union.
It is useful to listen to the statement of the outgoing Angela Merkel, which was reported by the media on November 1 this year. She warns : “We are forgetting the lessons of the Second World War.” Although back in 2010 she said that “we learned lessons” from the war.
Merkel recalls the “recurring logic” in history. Where institutions created to act as protectors from conflict collapse as old traumas are forgotten. It is clear that we are talking about a possible collapse of the EU. There is also a transparent allusion to the fate of Poland. Country which took an active part in inciting World War II and then became its victim.
The inertia of thinking is a well-known fact. When the market rallies for a long time, most traders think it will last forever, and vice versa. The same pattern applies to politics, and may outwardly unexpectedly comprehend the EU. Empires disintegrate, overexerting themselves and finding themselves unable to service their growing obligations.
Expansion has already stalled
While Brussels / Berlin are fighting back by tightening fiscal discipline for the PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain), escalating the “Russian threat”, “migration tribute” to Ankara, etc. But the expansion has already stalled and is mired in gray zone crises (Moldova, Ukraine). Now this has been added to open “political riots” on the outskirts (Poland, Hungary) and demands for “tribute” (transfers from European funds). Who can guarantee that this is not the beginning of the disintegration of the European empire into “tribes” (East, Center, South)?
Ex-German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer published an article in which he suggested that the EU first tackle the problems at its borders. Only and then to dream of a global role that it does not have. The politician called it a “dangerous contradiction” when the EU “rings out about strategic autonomy [from the US], while depriving itself of the means to achieve an independent role in foreign policy and security.”
Warsaw blackmailing itself
Poland is trying to follow the path of Great Britain in the European Union. Securing a “special position” (high level of autonomy) and retaining “financial bonuses”. However, Britain was one of the three largest donors to the EU budget. Poland is the largest subsidized country in the European Union. It turns out a dependent position: “we will blackmail you for your money.”
The EU has generously funded Poland for almost a quarter century. The account has long gone into hundreds of billions. Only from EU structural funds for regional development Poland in 2014-2020 received € 90 billion (an average of almost € 13 billion per year).
According to the EU financial plans for 2021-2027, approved in October of this year, as part of the post-pandemic recovery program, Poland is allotted from the EU’s “wallet” only non-repayable subsidies of more than € 120 billion (an average of € 17 billion per year). Not to mention preferential credits and other “bonuses”. Against this background, fines of € 1.5 million per day (€ 0.5 billion per year) recently imposed by the EU Court of Justice on Warsaw for disobedience are childish pranks.
While the European Union continues to repair Polish roads and train stations, Warsaw demands special treatment. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the Polish Seim boasts that he knocked out billions in Brussels, because “assertive politics, not patting on the shoulder” is most effective in dealing with EU. A good example for neighboring Hungary and other frustrating member states.
At the same time, Moravetsky adds that the EU is dealing with “imaginary problems that have basically created for itself.” Geopolitical rudeness or ordinary impudence?
The origins of Polish politics: the US factor
All things considered, it seems that it is not so simple. Poland is not just blackmailing, sabotaging and trolling Brussels. 80% of Polish exports go to the EU countries. The majority of the country’s population supports EU membership and even goes to rallies on this matter.
In feuds with the European Union, Warsaw traditionally emphasizes the importance of NATO and the United States. It is beneficial for the US for the EU to be integrated. But not too much. Earlier the “Trojan horse” was London, which blocked the construction of the federation. Now Polish politicians are trying to fit into this role. They are becoming useful for an increasingly self-isolating Washington. The expectation that NATO membership, US support and the pumping of the “Russian threat” will not allow Berlin to tighten the screws and cut off the oxygen to the Polish “economic miracle”.
“Poland problem” for Brussels is the problem of the geopolitical weakness of the European Union. The EU remains unconditionally dependent on US guarantees for its defense. And you can’t argue. Warsaw politicians sense weakness. However, they can overestimate their strengths. Just as has happened more than once in history.