It would find it much harder to resist pressure from Brusselsby Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska / May 19, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: The new nationalism
For the last nine years Polish and British experts, officials and politicians have met in Krakow annually to discuss their countries’ visions for Europe. In 2013, Timothy Garton Ash, the inspiration behind these Polish British Round Tables, wrote that the British-Polish relationship was like two spitfires flying in different directions: Warsaw headed for Berlin and the heart of the EU, and London away from Europe and towards the Atlantic.
The new right-wing Law and Justice government in Poland has changed course, however. Warsaw under the current leadership sees London—rather than Berlin—as its key ally in the European Union, and it opposes Germany’s vision of further political integration of the EU. In his first annual address on the government’s foreign policy priorities, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said that the EU “should go back to its roots” and focus on completing the single market (for example, removing the remaining barriers to trade across Europe). This will sound familiar to anyone who has heard David Cameron or Philip Hammond in the House of Commons. But does it mean that Poland could, like Britain, decide to turn its back on the EU and leave?
Probably not, or at least not yet. The Law and Justice party is not keen on Brussels but still thinks that on balance Poland benefits from its EU membership, especially when it has countries like Britain on its side. Brexit would be therefore a blow to the Polish government and its position in the EU.
In the European Parliament, Law and Justice belongs to the same political group as the Tories, the European Conservatives and Reformists. Many of the group’s most influential figures in the Parliament are British. Polish MEPs would at best need time to fill the gap left by the Conservatives. Brexit could also lead to Warsaw’s isolation in the European Council. The Law and Justice government has alienated many of Warsaw’s traditional partners by picking fights with the country’s Constitutional Court and by pushing through controversial changes to increase state control of…