Support for Western Balkan countries

As Poland’s political life was dominated by national elections, these issues did not get any specific reaction in the Polish media. As it concerns the Balkans, the only important event was the meeting of President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, with the Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšic, who came on an official visit to Poland on December 17, 2007. According to the press office of the Chancellery of the President, both leaders reviewed the situation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its circumstances, its structure and its neighbourhood, as well as the overall situation in the Balkans with particular regard to the problem of Kosovo. This meeting happened to be an occasion to present the official standpoint on the situation in Balkans. According to the President: “Poland is of the opinion, that Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other countries of the region should be given a green light as far as their NATO and EU membership is concerned. The summit of the European Council of March 2007 in a way confirmed this line of thinking not only in our country but also in Europe. Obviously, Bosnia and Herzegovina is very much interested in securing for itself the membership in NATO and in the European Union. (…) And Poland supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in this pursuit. This is not a new attitude but it is worth underscoring. (…).

Government and President: divergent viewpoints about Lisbon Treaty

The Polish parliament ratified the Lisbon Treaty on the 1st of April 2008 (396 for and only 56 votes against). During the following week the Senate swiftly ratified it. The Polish President Lech Kaczyński has been threatening since mid-March that he would obstruct the ratification unless the government prepared a parliamentary resolution according to which Poland would not withdraw the opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights and forego the ‘Ioannina compromise’. The party “Law and Justice” also wanted a guarantee stipulating that Polish law remained the highest law in the country and that any further transfer of competences to the supranational level would need the approval of the President. After Civic Platform promised to prepare such a resolution the President agreed to drop his reservations concerning the Treaty.
After the Irish ‘No’, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, on numerous occasions (during the European Council, the bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Merkel) agreed with the official EU line to continue the ratification process. “The result of the Irish referendum does not have to rule out the chances of its implementation.

Opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights raised some discussions

The last elections eliminated the eurosceptic and populist parties (League of Polish Families and Self-Defence) form the Polish Parliament. Only four parties reached the required 5% threshold and managed to send their deputies to the new Parliament. All four of them support the Lisbon Treaty in the current form (with the Polish opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights). The new governing coalition partners the Civic Platform (which received 42% of the votes in the October 2007 elections) and the Peasants Party (9%) support the swift ratification of the new treaty. At the outset the government has even proclaimed that it would be good if Poland could ratify the treaty as the first member state. Such stance was met with support from the social-democrats (13% of the votes) who always supported the treaty, and were against the tough negotiating stance on the issue of the previous Law and Justice government (it should be reminded that the previous government’s position on the distribution of votes was supported by the Civic Platform). The Law and Justice (32%) which negotiated the treaty supports it, provided that the opt-out from the Charter is upheld.

6th anniversary of Poland’s EU membership and approaching EU presidency

Anna Jedrzejewska
Since April 2010, the public debate and media coverage in Poland were to a great extent dominated by the issues related to the crash of the President’s plane near Smolensk, the discussions over the Katyn mass-killings during World War II and mutual relations with Russia. Consequently, the pre-term presidential elections dominated in media coverage and political discourse after 20 April 2010. Additionally, May 2010 saw the problem of flooding and, therefore, media and political debates have been predominantly preoccupied with the domestic topics mentioned above.

Poland survives crisis relatively unscathed

Maria Karasinska-Fendler
During the recent financial crisis, sound macroeconomic and financial management allowed Poland to emerge relatively unscathed. Indeed, Poland was the only economy in the EU to register positive economic growth in 2009 and expects to reach a growth rate of more than 2 percent in 2010. The recent crisis has laid bare some troubling weaknesses in Europe’s institutional framework. As Europe works to reshape its institutions now – making them stronger, more resilient, and better able to promote balanced and sustained growth – these weaknesses must be repaired. For Poland, after the painful early years of transition, economic growth took off, trade flourished, and stable institutions took root. Growing economic and financial ties with Western Europe accelerated this process and boosted foreign investment. All these produced a remarkable rise in living standards, with incomes beginning to converge toward Western European levels. This is the most important development: integration has improved the quality of people’s lives. The Polish government and economists are convinced that European institutions and mechanisms were able to provide some cushion from the crisis.

Energy, Euro, climate, and EU funds

Foundation for European Studies - European Institute
Among the topics that enjoyed lively interest of both politicians and public opinion in Poland, was the question of energy including both energy sources imported from Russia, as well as the problem of climatic change occurring due to energy production technologies linked with emissions of greenhouse gases.
The first problem is treated by public opinion not as a purely business issue, but rather as the one that is being linked with Russia’s policy, tending to treat energy sources as instruments of foreign policy. Therefore, Poland is deeply interested in both the EU member states solidarity on the energy question and diversification of supply sources in order to diminish dependence on Russia. Poland is also against building the Baltic and Black Sea underwater gas pipes and supports at the same time the Nabucco and Jamal two pipes, running via Belarus and Poland. Therefore, “Gazprom” maneuvers aiming at the establishment of a gas cartel following OPEC or the attempts at controlling gas deposits outside Russian borders are very carefully observed in Poland.[1] On the other hand, all signals and decisions on the EU side reflecting the implementation of energy solidarity are being welcomed with great satisfaction.[2]

Georgian-Russian conflict: Poland’s concerns with Russia

Foundation for European Studies - European Institute
The Georgian-Russian conflict was carefully observed in Poland and arouse keen interest among politicians, political commentators, the public opinion and media, who in turn were following with deep interest the EU reaction and in particular the position of the French Presidency.
In the opinion of both the society and the politicians, one can observe the conviction that Russia’s actions towards Georgia not only constitutes threat for Georgian sovereignty, but also marks the beginning of the wider-scale Russian offensive meant to subordinate former Soviet republics and the entire area of the former Soviet Block. This conflict has been seen as an important factor for the future development of EU-Russian relations, the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as EU and NATO enlargement to the East.