By this trip, Emmanuel Macron will try this Monday to resume dialogue with the Polish authorities. Relations between the two countries are cold, especially on bilateral and European subjects, including the rule of law and the climate.
Emmanuel Macron starts his first visit to Poland on Monday to resume dialogue with one of his main opponents in the EU, be it on the climate, the rule of law or politics migration. The French president will meet the main Polish political authorities in Warsaw on Monday: President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, but also the presidents of the two chambers, Elzbieta Witek on the Diet and Tomasz Grodzki in the Senate. The two countries have had strained relations since the coming to power in 2015 of the conservative nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS).
From criticism to anger
Since his election, Emmanuel Macron has criticized Warsaw for its reforms controversial justice – still hardened by a law passed on 23 January and intended, according to the opposition, to punish the recalcitrant judges to apply them – and accused her of blocking the carbon neutrality agenda in 2050.
In October 2018, during his visit to Slovakia, Emmanuel Macron had gone from measured criticism to anger against the leaders of Poland and Hungary, “spirits crazy people “who, according to him,” lie to their people “through their anti-European positions.
He also several times suggested that European aid be conditioned on respect for the rule of law or for participation in the reception of refugees, threats targeting Poland and Hungary . Two countries which, with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, are united in the “Visegrad group” against Western Europe. Emmanuel Macron also shocked a Poland worried about the ambitions of its Russian neighbor with his remarks on NATO “in a state of brain death” and his efforts to get closer to Vladimir Putin. “Let them go and demonstrate in Poland”, he also launched this fall to young climate activists who criticized him, getting angry at “Poland which blocks everything”.
But the French president is a follower of pragmatism in matters of foreign policy, with the principle of “speaking to all” and forging bilateral alliances sector by sector. In addition, with the departure of the United Kingdom, Poland strengthens its weight in the EU by becoming the fifth country by population and the sixth by GDP .
To prepare for this seduction operation, the Elysee Palace hammered last week that “on no major European subject, we cannot advance without Poland”. “We want to strengthen the Franco-Polish relationship, there are differences, which must be put on the table but convergence in areas such as industrial policy, European defense, nuclear energy, digital taxation or even competition policy, “explains the French presidency.
To show its goodwill, the Elysée Palace repeated this week that France would find it legitimate for Warsaw to receive greater subsidies than others to help it lower its CO2 emissions , if it joins the European “Green Deal”. As for migration policy, Emmanuel Macron has since 2018 believed that the “principle of compulsory solidarity for all” which he defends in matters of reception of refugees can be developed in “Flexible methods, like participating in European programs rather than welcoming refugees,” said Paris.
“Not a Poland-France confrontation”
Threats to justice and protest judges? “This is not a Polish-French confrontation, it would be wrong to make it a bilateral subject, it is a collective European subject”, tempers Paris. The Commission is carrying out a procedure that France supports “unambiguously”, and “the president will mention it,” says the Elysée.
France and Poland are also finding themselves allied to request the maintenance of significant funding for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the new European budget for 2021 – 2027, whose negotiations have just started. “After a period of enthusiasm and optimism for Emmanuel Macron's European policy, the time for realism has come”, particularly in the context of Brexit and a certain retreat from Germany, summarizes the political scientist Alexander Smolar , “Hence the idea of less deep but faster agreements.”
Paris also hopes to highlight its industrialists in defense and nuclear. To reduce its emissions, Poland, a country still largely dependent on coal, will need nuclear power , believes Paris. The delegation also includes Xavier Ursat, EDF director for nuclear projects, and the president of the Nuclear Safety Authority Bernard Doroszczuk.
But on the armament side, if Poland seeks to strengthen its armed forces , it has always preferred American equipment until now. Again on Friday, Warsaw signed with Washington the purchase of 32 F combat aircraft – 35 for 4.6 billion dollars, or 4, 17 billion euros.
Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron will travel to Krakow , the former royal capital of Poland, and “will address the Polish youth” during a conference with the students of the Jagiellonian University, to “launch an appeal for European engagement”.