Europe: solidarity and its obligations

Marek Jurek

During the last informal summit of the European Union, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, stated that such countries as Poland and the Czech Republic ‘have the obligation’ to accept euro because they obliged themselves to do that. It is strange that he did not mention Sweden that had also obliged itself to do that and six years ago in the referendum it did not consent to give up its currency. Sweden did not reject the obligation but the proposal to do it in the time that it did not recognise as proper and in the conditions when many other EU members preserved their national currencies. Sweden had the right to do that and so have we. The President of the European Commission should remember that both countries belong to the EU, and moreover, the member states include countries that use the common currency and the countries that preserve their national currencies and the European solidarity should concern both. Above all, José Manuel Barroso should remember that the European Commission, which he directs, manages the whole European Union and does not manage the euro union. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Donald Tusk continuously expresses similar opinions. And you should not expect the Polish Prime Minister to defend the interests of the eurocrats but he should defend the Polish interests in the arena of the European Union. Since there is no solidarity of Europe without respect for the rights and interests of our country. It is also worth realising what the obligations, President Barroso and Prime Minister Tusk demagogically use, are. Article 2 of the EU Treaty says that ‘The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and an economic and monetary union and by implementing common policies… to promote throughout the Community a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities.’ Therefore, looking at the point of view presented by the treaty it is not the common currency that is to lead to harmonious level of life and economic development but the other way round, levelling economic differences can open the doors for a monetary union. Since from the purely economic perspective the clear differences in development cannot allow to recognise the whole European Union as an optimal currency area. The summit, I have already mentioned, became another lost opportunity to remember the common binding principles although the domineering EU countries have ignored them so far. For example, our Prime Minister lost the opportunity to remind the member states that Germany and Austria had the obligation to open their market for workers from Eastern-Central Europe in the name of the fundamental principle of free work flow in the EU. He could have also said that in the name of honest competition the European Union had the obligation to level the rate of the agricultural subsidies for Poland and for Western Europe. He could have said that the special right to public help to reconstruct economy after the communist period granted to East Germany in Article 87 of the Treaty, establishing the European Community, should be the standard serving economic interests of all the EU countries that were set free from communism. In what ways were the merits of the shipyard workers from Rostock higher to win bigger solidarity of Europe than the merits of the shipyard workers from Szczecin and Gdansk? When the government of the Citizen’s Platform and the Polish Peasants Party wants to avoid a serious debate about Poland they try to degrade the arguments of the opponents by incantations about ‘euroscepticism.’ These political spells are a new kind of tomato game, which we remember from childhood: tomato as the word that substitutes all things and which (which is worse) annuls all things. And in the case of euro the thing is not ‘euroscepticism’, but the level of future life and the conditions of Poland’s development for the coming years. The experiences of Slovakia and Lithuania, the rapid rise in prices, show the consequences of abandoning national currencies by economically weaker countries or forced policy of currency convergence. The national currency remains a fundamental element of the Polish economic politics – it is the struggle to level the differences on the continent, being only one of the official aims of European collaboration. One can neither abandon it nor throw it with ease on the referendum table of party game.

"Niedziela" 13/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: