Sikorski's speech titled “Poland and the future of the European Union”, delivered in Berlin at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik on Monday (28 November) made waves in EU circles today.
The Commission refused to comment on major highlights of the speech, such as Sikorski's call for the College of Commissioners to be smaller in order to be effective.
The EU executive now has 27 members and 27 Commissioner. Member States should rotate to have their commissioner, said Sikorski, whose country holds the rotating EU Presidency.
The Polish Minister also said that the posts of President of the European Council, now held by Herman Van Rompuy and that of the European Commission President, held by José Manuel Barroso, should merge.
But perhaps more importantly, he advocated against a two-speed or multi-speed Europe, as current contacts between Berlin and Paris appear to suggest the direction of coming reforms.
"Instead of organising separate Euro summits or exclusive meetings of finance ministers we can continue the practice from other EU fora where all may attend, but only eurozone members vote, Sikorski said.
Single seat for the European Parliament
The Polish Minister also called for electing "some members of the European Parliament" from a pan-European list of candidates, an idea similar to the one advocated by federalist MEP Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK). The Parliament should have its seat in a single location, Sikorski also said.
The minister addressed a strong message to Germany, calling on its big neighbour to act more decisively and assume more leadership in dealing with the eurozone crisis.
"Because of your size and your history you have a special responsibility to preserve peace and democracy on the continent," Sikorski said.
Piotr Kaczyński, researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), said the main message of this major political speech was: "Don't forget about us. The EU is 27, not 17, and the enlargement was not a problem for Europe, and the new members can contribute to the solutions of Europe's problems".
Indeed, Sikorski had spoken at length about the economic benefits of EU enlargement.
Asked if such a generalisation on enlargement was not misleading, as Hungary's recent democratic failures appear to bring problems to Europe, Kaczyński admitted that this problem existed. But he insisted that Poland and Slovakia were very pro-European and had grown rapidly even during the last four years, when the eurozone average growth was negative.
The main message to Germany was of conditional support from Poland, Kaczyński said.
"The condition is: keep close cooperation enlarged, don't limit it to the eurozone or a smaller group in the eurozone, keep it to the 27, and Poland will support you. There is no reason not to include Poland in whatever form of closer cooperation," the CEPS researcher said.
Asked if it was the role of the country, holding the rotating EU presidency to come up with such bold ideas about major EU reform, instead of sticking to the traditional role of moderator, Kaczyński said that these are not "normal times," and therefore he didn't see the statements as inappropriate.
'Being the leader of European solutions'
"In normal times I would have fully agreed. But that was a leadership speech. The Poles have ambitions and the speech was showing that. It's not only about moderation, it's not only about being the honest broker. It's about being the leader for European solutions."
On the transnational lists, Kaczyński regretted that Sikorski did not go beyond what the federalists in the European parliament have already put on the table.
"There is space to go even beyond, not only a couple of dozen MEPs as Andrew Duff wanted, but for the entire chamber. It is not for the national parties to run for European elections, but for European parties to run for European elections," he said.
"There is space to make the European Parliament a real parliament, a real guarantee or guarantor for European democracy," Kaczyński insisted.
However, the CEPS researcher criticised the Polish minister arguing that he was not specific on the timing, and that the "Pandora box" of treaty change should not be opened before the crisis is over.
"During crisis, you collect the ideas, you pick up on the brains, you do realise what are the needs for reform, but you don't reform during the crisis. You do it after the crisis, when people have the memory of the crisis and remember what the reasons for doing reforms are," he said. He also reminded that the eurosceptic Czech President Václav Klaus, the Irish constitutional requirement for holding referendums on EU-related matters and similar commitments undertaken by the political class in UK, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark were obstacles not to be neglected.
"With that amount of public mood, it would be very easy to ruin that treaty change and that would create a new unnecessary European crisis," he said.
Asked if the speech was not signaling an ambition by Sikorki to play a bigger role in EU politics in the future, Kaczyński said that indeed, his past experience positions him as a European leader with a vision, but where would this take him was impossible to say at this stage.
Sikorski is vice President of the centre-right party Civic Platform which recently won the elections in Poland. He has been the longest serving Polish foreign minister since 1989 and one of the longest serving foreign ministers in Europe.