EUReferendum








Log in

EU politics: a Polish alliance in the offing?

Richard North, 05/01/2013  


Welt 000-pol.jpg

If the UK is having second thoughts about its standing in the European, it appears we are not alone. Poland too, seems to be undergoing its usual bout of ritual bedwetting, with the opposition party calling for a referendum on joining the euro, after an opinion poll had 56 percent opposing joining.

Furthermore, after an "extraordinary debate on the issues", the parliament has postponed until February a vote on Poland's accession to the European fiscal pact, after it lost confidence in its ability to win it. The opposition, which had threatened to boycott the vote, claimed that the pact was "harmful to Poland, for Polish entrepreneurs and unconstitutional".

As to the euro, prime minister Donald Tusk had warned parliament in December that : "In front of us is the decision whether to be a part of this heart of Europe … or whether we are a marginal state its own currency". The country must determine in the coming months its line of approach, he said, "otherwise the train leaves without us."

Thus we see the same old rhetoric, which seems to have international application. The Polish propaganda is no more imaginative than that served up by our own europhiles.

Die Welt, however, observes that the Polish "euro-date" is getting to be like a mirage. When the country joined the EU in 2004, there was talk of 2009. Then, in 2008, prime minister Tusk postponed the date to 2011. Then along came the eurozone crisis, alongside the remarkable success of the Polish economy and the strength of the zloty. 

 Leader of the opposition party PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, criticises the decision to seek entry to the eurozone and a spokesman for the national conservatives says: "If a house is on fire, you don't go rushing into it". He adds that the EU is also presenting member states with other projects, "which would mean an almost complete loss of economic sovereignty". Poland was in danger of "losing something we have won recently. There was no reason to give it up".

PiS MEP Krzysztof Szczerski emphasises that the Poles voted in 2003 to join the EU, but not on the accession to "a quasi-federal organism to which is now the euro zone".

"Only when we are able to compete with the EU countries, would the introduction of the euro be good for us" says the foreign policy expert Leszek Balcerowicz, and that could take a while. It could take 20 years for Poland to reach the standard of living in Germany.

On the other hand, ex-Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati argues that failure to join the euro annually costs 20 to 25 billion zlotys" - the equivalent of about five to six billion euros, an assertion that has Welt telling us that the European project is "controversial". Even the controversial EU constitution would have gained a majority but the euro will only get minority support. The government, it says, will have to proceed more carefully.

Before anything can happen though, the constitution has to be changed, because the federal bank has been enshrined as the only body that can issue currency. However, this will require a two-thirds majority in parliament, which currently is not available.

Thus, the government is going to have to wait until the election in 2015. Then there will be two years in the "waiting room" in the ERM II. Thus, the earliest the euro could be introduced is 2018. This leaves plenty of time for further introspection, with the ultimate decision resting on whether "anxiety in Poland gets the upper hand".

But a lot can happen in five years. The EU could be a very different place then and, with Poland still on the "periphery" we could have in that country a more secure alliance than we were able to offer in 1939.

COMMENT THREAD




 

comments powered by Disqus