EU change on the eastern front
From January to April, the Polish government took a huge number of steps to strengthen its position in Eastern Europe. As part of the confrontation between Brussels and the migration crisis, the forced further rapprochement of the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) continued; Poland, finally, has established a dialogue with Lithuania and has actually taken Lithuania into its orbit of influence.
On the eve of and throughout almost the entire first half of 2018, Poland and its situational partners (it is still too early to call these countries allies, although this word will soon be relevant to them) began to be implemented and are already implementing their unofficial secret project, the essence of which is creating a political, economic and logistic space in Eastern Europe.
Thus, within the framework of the Polish-Lithuanian dialogue, a whole range of problems was solved: from the tasks of the Lithuanian power industry to the creation of an inter-parliamentary group between the two countries. It was also announced that the construction of the Warsaw-Kaunas-Riga-Tallinn highway is entering the final phase, and the gas pipeline laid by a similar route will be commissioned in 2021, and Lithuania and Latvia have already agreed to buy gas from Poland.
Warsaw was also able to beat Brussels on one of the most important Baltic issues - shutting down the Ignalina NPP. Recall that the EU in the 2009 year demanded that Lithuania turn off the nuclear power plant and buy electricity from Poland, promising to keep the same electricity tariffs. However, due to the emerging rapprochement of the Baltic countries with Poland in the framework of the project “between the seas”, Brussels began to curtail funding for the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant. Naturally, Lithuania simply didn’t physically (and never will) have its own funds to perform such a complex task, and that’s just what Poland decided.
In addition, it is precisely thanks to the solution of the problem of nuclear power plants that Poland has found allies in the struggle with its closest competitor in the matter of selling electricity - Belarus. (At the moment, not far from the border with Lithuania, Belarus is completing the construction of its nuclear power plant, against which Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are very actively protesting.)
The Baltic countries that came first under the budget cuts in the spring of 2017, officially due to British withdrawal from the EU, and later last winter to reduce the ardor of rapprochement with Poland, according to the European Commission, the 2017% of EU subsidies were outdated.
Today they again fall under the “hot hand” because of the confrontation between Brussels and Warsaw. In the last days of May, the European Union officially announced a cut in funding from Eastern Europe by more than 30 billion euros.
And if up to this point the Baltic countries depended on Poland only half, that is energetically, and economically from Brussels, since the EU’s wallet paid off nuclear power plants, transport and integration projects, then after the first quarter of 2018, for example, Lithuania, financing which was greatly curtailed, it began to depend almost entirely on Poland.
Although the “main blow” of Brussels falls, for obvious reasons, of course, on Poland and Hungary (due to active Euroscepticism and confrontation with the EU’s common position), they are estimated to miss 23% of funding (approximately EUR 19,5 billion), financing of the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Estonia (it’s interesting that there is almost no talk of Latvia) will be reduced by 24%.
Therefore, already on June 1, a meeting of the foreign ministers of Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary and the Czech Republic took place. True, the outcome of the meeting is still unknown, but it is worth assuming that a unified position and plan of action was developed.
It must be said that all EU actions in the direction of the struggle against Poland (talk of sanctions, cuts in funding, and so on) were at first like a threat, and later like some ridiculous attempt to curb a player who had gone out of control. The result of this struggle was the strengthening of the position of Warsaw in the Baltic States, the rapprochement of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, but, most importantly, the discrediting of Brussels in the eyes of the "Eastern European bloc."
But the most ridiculous thing is that Brussels continues to act just as stupidly - to put pressure economically, without going over to tough political actions, hoping that Eastern European countries will come to their senses.
However, it is clear that instead of a reverse turn towards the EU, these countries are rallying. And it is precisely the lack of understanding or unwillingness to understand and accept in Brussels the fact that the failure of its Eastern European policy makes it possible for Poland (and yet) to get out of his control more than Poland and Hungary, and to a greater extent, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, to a lesser extent. Stop this output can only be a hard political blow.
In addition, against the background of the confrontation between the Western and Eastern parts of the EU and the unconditional crisis of the western side, the East is launching an offensive. So, most recently Poland offered the United States to transfer its military base from Germany to its territory, moreover, Warsaw is ready to pay all costs (and this is about 2 billion euros). This step is aimed at shifting priorities in the deployment, and most importantly - the control of NATO troops in Europe. That is, simply put, Warsaw wants to become the main and only conductor (representative, guardian) of the European interests of the United States.
But the most interesting thing is that this proposal of the Polish side absolutely fits into the rhetoric taken by the US President in July 2017 of the year during his visit to Poland. Then Trump said that he would increase the military presence in Eastern Europe, while reducing it in Western. Therefore, if you look at Poland’s statement from the perspective of Trump’s promise a year ago, you can see that everything is moving clearly along a given vector.
In addition, it is worth noting that Poland, of course, staking on NATO in terms of its security, did not refuse to participate in the PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation, Permanent Structured Cooperation), to put it simply, in creating a European army (although the “army” is very loud said).
The United States deliberately made a bet on Eastern Europe as a much more docile and profitable in the military and resource plan, largely because of its geographical position, allowing influence both on the West and on the East, and, most importantly, not yet tired for the past decades from US hegemony.
If you look at the problem as a whole, and at the differences between Germany, France and the USA, and the large “chess game” in the eastern part of Europe, you will notice that the situation with the beginning of the trade war between the US and the EU is completely ridiculous, the appearance of the first signs of a conflict between Merkel and Macron, the daring behavior of Poland and her all-in game do not seem so groundless, and most importantly, spontaneous and ill-conceived.
- Ivan Baidakov
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