Poland aims to play a leading role in Europe and even sets itself the goal of becoming the largest European Union economy by 2040. To achieve this, Poland has to outmatch Germany.
Poland has long been trying to become the pivot in Europe. In 1991, the Weimar Triangle was formed, wherein Poland was supposed to promote cooperation with Europe’s barbarian east, Germany would take care of the wealthy north, and France the tourist south.
Over the past 30 years, this format has lost its relevance as Poland has set itself a more ambitious task – to become the most dominant in the European Union, displacing Germany from this place.
Polish media now points out that Russia and Germany are declining; their era is ending. As per the local press, Berlin is not capable of much in reality, so Warsaw can create an alternative “centre of power” in the region.
A Polish thinker, Warsaw University professor Witold Modzelevsky, calls Germany the “true enemy” of Poland and calls for abandoning demonstrative hostility towards Russia.
The Deputy Prime Minister, head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party Yaroslav Kaczynski on December 1, 2021, said that “Germany wants to build the Fourth Reich, but we will not allow it.”
Warsaw remembers Germany’s past and wants to profit from it
Since PiS came to power in 2015, Poland’s relations with Germany have deteriorated. Things got to the point that in the spring of 2021, intergovernmental consultations between Warsaw and Berlin did not take place due to a collapse in relations.
After Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor demitted her office in 2021, posters showing the images of the German ambassador to Poland and the leading Nazi criminals appeared in Warsaw. The posters were printed with state funds and hung in places rented with money. The head of the ruling party spoke about the Fourth Reich, which wants to rule Europe (and maybe the world), which is associated with the Third Reich in Poland.
Warsaw endlessly demonized Germany for Nord Stream 2, stating that the gas pipeline is a strategic threat to European energy security and hinting that Berlin is again making a deal with Russia “over the heads of the states sandwiched between them.”
Poland is demanding reparations for the ruin during the Second World War. According to some reports, Warsaw estimates the damages at $850 billion.
Poland has become a political leader in the E.U.
Since the beginning of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, Poland became more active in criticizing Germany for indecision regarding sanctions against the Russian Federation. It firmly took its place at the forefront of European politics when the U.S. and the U.K. began directly engaging it, bypassing Germany.
Yaroslav Kachinsky said that France and Germany were “too strongly disposed towards Moscow.” According to him, this position turned out badly for Europe.
He said “I am extremely dissatisfied with the actions of the German government. Germany could supply more weapons (to Ukraine). It could also speak out for an oil embargo in the European Union.”
From the beginning of March, Warsaw began to promote the idea of sending a military “peacekeeping” mission of the North Atlantic bloc to Ukraine.
The German Cabinet of Ministers, Steffen Hebestreit, called this a “red line” and stressed that it would be difficult to distinguish a humanitarian rescue mission from a military one.
Poland has become the key U.S. military ally in the E.U.
Warsaw has always been a representative of American interests in the European Union, and with the U.K. leaving it, Poland’s role has gotten bigger. The new tough U.S. agenda against Russia is being presented today through Polish politicians. Poland has intensified the criticism of Germany, which is resisting the agenda.
Poland does not tire of pointing out the statement by the German navy commander, forced to resign, who recognized Crimea as Russian and denied Putin’s aggressive intentions towards Ukraine. As per the Polish politicians, Rear Admiral Schönbach’s opinion cannot be considered merely a symptom of his “eccentrics”, as he revealed the way of thinking of part of the German establishment with his words.
Poland says Germany may refrain from selling defense weapons to Ukraine on the pretext of prohibiting the sale of weapons to conflict zones, but it also vetos similar supplies by NATO.
Although Poland takes into account the post-war tradition of Germany rejecting military solutions in favour of negotiations and deepening economic ties but points out that voices from the United Right suggest that they are ready to fight for Ukraine until the last Ukrainian, American or German.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz is not as influential as his predecessor Angela Merkel and the role of the leading U.S. military ally in Europe is shifting from Berlin to Poland, one of NATO’s most diligent members.
The country is not just providing a foothold for American forces; it is investing billions of dollars in building and maintaining NATO’s military infrastructure on its territory. Warsaw also succeeded in creating various coalitions in Eastern Europe, which in the future, it is possible, will be directed against Germany.
Poland could become the top E.U. economy
With the American help, Poland has a good chance of dominating Germany in the E.U. in the future, but several obstacles exist.
Poland cannot match the German economy currently as it is the most powerful economy in Europe. The GDP of Germany in 2021 amounted to $4.2 trillion, and Poland was 674 billion dollars, which is six times less. The per capita income in Germany amounted to $50.8 thousand in the same year against $17.8 thousand in Poland, which is almost three times less.
Germany is an E.U. donor, and Poland is the largest recipient of European subsidies.
Germany is Poland’s leading economic partner and the undisputed number one for trade partnerships and investments.
According to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, German investments in Poland in 2019 amounted to almost 40 billion euros. About 6,000 German companies operate in the Polish market, including those in the automotive industry and engineering, which have localized their production in Poland. A significant part of the profits from German investments are not repatriated from Poland to Germany but are reinvested.
When Jarosław Kaczynski says that the Polish economy will catch up with the German economy in 2040, do not be surprised.
But can the Poles actually make it to the top of the E.U. table? Going by history, even during their power in the era of the Commonwealth, the Poles did not achieve anything. The country kept losing territory. Poland has aspirations but lacks in implementation.