Polish citizens are happy, the economy is booming and the support for the conservative government is at an all-time high. That was the message two Polish ministers delivered to the Brussels press corps on Monday (19 February).
European Affairs Minister Konrad Szymański and Jerzy Kwieciński, minister for investment and development, also voiced optimism that the current political tensions between Brussels and Warsaw would be resolved “step by step”.
Kwieciński, who was appointed as minister in a sweeping government reshuffle on 9 December, told reporters in the Polish permanent representation the biggest eastern member state’s economy was “really booming”.
He cited macroeconomic data released last week, which put Poland’s economic growth in the last quarter of 2017 at 5%, and the average for the whole year at 4.6%.
He said there were three “engines” for this strong growth: the rising consumption, the growth of exports, which in the last months of 2017 rose 11% year-on-year, and “the most important one”, as he described it – investment, which is going strong.
“What is even more important is that our people, the citizens, are getting more and more happy and very positively assess the economic performance of the country”, he said and added:
“These are the highest levels of approval since the beginning of our transformation process. They assess the quality of life and the economic standing of households. And of course, this translates into political support to the current party [in power] which is the highest ever, it’s almost 50%.
“In comparison to other European countries we have a very stable political environment”, he said, adding that the Law and Justice (PiS) party was not losing support since it took power in 2015 but was in fact gaining support.
Asked about the idea of linking EU funds to the rule of law, Szymański conveyed the message that Warsaw wanted to “hear more” about the idea. He added that it was not clear what kind of measurement could be done and who could be legitimate to make assessments with such “huge” consequences as the limitation of the member state’s rights according to the treaties.
“We see enormous problems related to the implementation of this political concept”, he said.
Asked about the Article 7 procedure, which has been launched for Poland because of perceived threats to the basic rule of law, Szymański said Poland would clarify its positions “case by case, step by step”.
He said that the latest messages were quite optimistic, the communication and the mutual understanding was better and the new Polish prime minister was “in the phase” of finding a solution to the situation.
Since Mateusz Morawiecki took the reins of the government in Warsaw, the climate between Brussels and Poland has visibly improved.
The ministers also conveyed the message that the EU should do more on issues such as migration and security, which is why Poland supports a bigger budget, at 1,1% of GDP.
But they also made clear that the country does not support the Spitzenkandidaten system for choosing the next Commission president. One of the arguments was that it limits the possibility of a geographic balance in the attribution of the EU top jobs.