“A Europe of solidarity and growth, a Europe open and secure.” This is how Poland presents its outlook for holding the European Union presidency: in high and ambitious terms.
Staunchly pro-Europe and optimistic, following extensive preparations, Prime Minister Donald Tusk nevertheless has but six months ahead of him to carry the Polish presidency’s agenda towards fruition. Warsaw hopes to leave a thorough, positive impression.
It set the tone last Friday with regard to the Greek debt crisis. While it supports Athens, Warsaw wants lessons to be drawn. Poland intends to become a euro country itself at some point on condition it sees a common tightening of budgetary discipline.
Warsaw also wants to attend the meetings of the 17-country euro group finance ministers. In theory, it does not have the right, but economic directions for Greece will be discussed in that council — and decisions will be taken. After heated talks, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker accepted Poland’s point of view.
Poland will be presiding over the opening of the 2014-2020 European multi-annual budget negotiations, which are fraught with technicalities, and it will be well-placed to influence these talks.
It enjoys substantial aid from the budget yet is also proud to be the only EU state not to have succumbed to recession recently. It wants a solid EU budget to underpin Europe’s ability to wage effective global economic competition.
It defends the current levels of agricultural policy funding, while insisting the system must be modernised, to allow for fairer distribution to farmers and regions.
The Polish presidency will also be handling EU enlargement, helping to conclude Croatia’s entry process with a view to that country joining the bloc in 2013. At the same time, in spite of some reservations on the part of other EU members, Warsaw intends to launch the adhesion negotiations with Serbia.
To further the idea of eastward opening up, without stepping on Russia’s toes, Poland will organise an eastern partnership summit for the end of September.