The centralization of the EU is speeding up. Any government that wants to consent to changes to the Union treaties must first ask the nation’s approval in a referendum. Because this is not the kind of European Union that Poles (and other peoples of Europe) agreed to sign up to.
Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz
“By 2025 a United States of Europe will be built. Anyone who does not wish to agree to that will have to leave the EU.” When in December 2017 our Do Rzeczy weekly was among the few Polish media to quote these words of Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, Poland’s opinion-forming elites completely ignored them. It was similar with further, ever more far-reaching and ever more forcible statements, and then political facts, indicating that the leadership circles of the “old Union” were determined to transform the organization’s existing structures into a centrally managed “European state”, depriving its member states of the competences of sovereign nations.
Perhaps understandably, on the far left this plan not only provoked no resistance, but was also welcomed with hope. The Polish left, which due to our distinct history lacks a broader political base, has for years been living the dream set out in a famous letter from Tadeusz Kroński to Czesław Miłosz: to find support in some outside force (in Kroński’s case this was to be the “butts of Soviet rifles”) that would beat out of the Poles’ heads their backward Catholic-nationalist ideas, because progressive circles here are too puny to do that on their own.
It is also understandable why the EU’s federalist impulses were falsely presented by left-liberal circles and their influential media. Ever since the public’s rejection of Balcerowicz’s “systemic transformation,” they have been living in the belief that they, as enlightened elites, must lead the Poles through the historically inevitable processes without their knowledge, and even by distracting their attention – just like cattle being led out of a burning cowshed need to have rags tied round their heads, because the brainless beasts would only kick and resist, failing to understand that it was all for their own good.
A signal of submission
However, the fact that the Law and Justice (PiS) government of the past eight years ignored the threat entirely cannot be explained by anything except political shortsightedness. Hypnotized by polls confirming voters’ Euro-enthusiasm, and blackmailed by the opposition’s propaganda that raised the specter of Polexit, those in power tried earnestly to show themselves no less enthusiastic about the EU than the opposition.
The crowning moment of this campaign was the resolution adopted by the party’s top body that ruled out exiting the EU at any time, regardless of the circumstances. This signal of submission, sent openly to Berlin and Brussels, went hand in hand with the Morawiecki government’s signing of successive concessions, agreements and “milestones,” masked by fantasies about the upcoming formation of a coalition with Western parties of protest (the French FN, the Spanish VOX, etc.) which would block any federalist moves that were unfavorable to Poland. All of this in the hope that, placated by the concessions, the European Commission would make some gesture toward PiS that would improve the electoral chances of a government constantly accused of being “anti-European.”
However, Berlin and Brussels would not play that game – they received concession after concession without acknowledgment, and sometimes, as in the case of Commission President von der Leyen’s mocking of Polish President Duda over the law intended to “unlock” the National Reconstruction Plan, exploiting them to further humiliate the hated “nationalist-Catholic dictatorship.”
The delaying tactics adopted toward the Eurocracy involved giving up the pursuit of strategic Polish interests, masking this by rhetorical bluster, in exchange for selective tactical advantages which it was extremely naive to believe in – the officials and politicians of the “old Union” did not hide even for a moment that their goal was to see the “pro-European” Tusk returned to power in Poland. The only outcome is that the latter, when he now sets about selling off Polish sovereignty, will be able to use the argument – unfortunately true – that he is simply performing undertakings made by the previous government.
Changing the treaties
Meanwhile, the process of building a “European state” is being speeded up. Viktor Suvorov once compared a war of aggression to the behavior of a predator that creeps up on its prey unseen for as long as possible, openly attacking only when the chance of escape has been reduced to a minimum. On this analogy, the vote by the European Parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) to accept draft changes to the EU treaties that turn a community of sovereign countries into a federal state can be said to mark the symbolic end of the “creeping up” stage. The creation, called the “United States of Europe” due to its better connotations, though actually more deserving of the name “Union of European Socialist Republics,” was then shown to the world in all its clarity, in a more extreme form than anyone had previously proposed. Notable from our point of view is the fact that this memorable vote was originally due to take place on October 12, but was postponed by a week with a view to the situation in Poland, so as not to endanger Donald Tusk’s electoral success.
The draft, approved by AFCO and now to be put to a plenary session of the European Parliament, goes so far that commentators see it as the outcome of a competition in “pro-European” zeal between parliamentary leaders and Brussels officials, or as something like the goat in the parable of the rabbi – a proposal put forward only so that the heads of the “European state under construction” can later withdraw 90 percent of it, in return for pushing through the most important point: a new decision-making procedure that will in any case enable the remaining 90 percent to be achieved over time.
What we have here is not just an open attempt to reduce national governments to the role of local administrators, subject to strict oversight from the center. We also see a freely expressed desire to force the United States out of Europe and to reduce dependence on NATO by creating “European armed forces” – as was additionally highlighted by the co-rapporteur on the plans, German MEP Helmut Scholz. It is visible here that the architects of the “European state” are building it not for building’s sake, but to make it an instrument of a concrete policy, openly proposed recently in public speeches by Chancellor Scholz and President Macron: a policy of “balancing” American influence in Europe with influence from China and its junior partner, a role to which Russia has been reduced by its “full-scale” aggression against Ukraine.
The moment of the announcement of the project for a centralized “European state” subject to the diktat of the EU’s great powers and having a clear anti-national left-wing ideological profile – as defined by Karl Marx (who is celebrated at the highest levels in the EU) and his protégés, the creators of the “Ventotene Manifesto” – coincided with the left-liberal media’s removal of the spell that had been cast over the issue. This happened in Poland too.
It had previously been temporarily expedient for the media belonging to European corporations to ignore or downplay any information about the federalist efforts of Berlin and Brussels, even when the need for Berlin to “take responsibility for Europe” and for “national egoisms” to be subordinated to “common European interests” was announced not only by Martin Schulz, but by Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself. These ideas were presented as a “song of the distant future,” as “theoretical solutions” or as “PiS propaganda.”
A large part of left-liberal propaganda continues to follow that line, persuading people, as it did not long ago regarding the regulation on the compulsory relocation of illegal immigrants, that nothing has yet been set in stone, and everything is either an exaggeration or a complete invention by hostile forces. Nonetheless, Ringier Axel Springer’s influential Onet portal announced in an article by its editor-in-chief, literally the day after the electoral defeat of PiS, that it was high time to consider seriously the “benefits” that we would obtain by becoming part of a “European state.”
This piece by Bartosz Węglarczyk is valuable not only for setting out the propaganda line that will now be augmented in various ways. Compared with the old left-wing fantasies of the “inevitable merging of nations in a community of a higher order,” set out by left-wing intellectuals in the opinion section of Gazeta Wyborcza or in niche media like Krytyka Polityczna, Węglarczyk’s disquisition differs on only one point: it no longer refers to a “supranational community” that frees itself from restrictive national state organizations, because it has moved to a higher level – it has become a “European nation,” and thus no longer needs them. At present the “European state” is being sold to us as a source of “support” based on the “strength” and decisiveness of the “EU powers,” which will ensure our security in times of wars and social unrest.
It would be a waste of time here to refute the stupidities of the planned “Anschluss” – the level of security in Poland is currently much higher than in the states that wish to guarantee it for us; and one need not be a genius to imagine how the situation in Ukraine would have developed if at the decisive moment we had subordinated our “egotistical” Polish interests to the “European” interests represented by Berlin, Paris, and Brussels. But the propaganda claims betray the truth of the matter. A “European state” is needed by its creators not to make Europeans feel like a greater, supranational community, but because the strong countries “must” take the weaker ones under their wing and lead them in the right direction. And if the smaller countries cannot understand that it is for their own good, then it will be necessary to use tools of coercion that a community based on three freedoms of movement did not provide, while a superstate will.
A vital aspect of the matter requiring separate and extensive discussion is the role that Germany plays in this centralizing “heist” on the European community. It is German politicians who have designed the process of building a European state, not based on the integration of equal partners, but centered around the strongest, recreating the experiences of Bismarck’s unification of Germany, with the modern German state playing the same role as the Prussian state did then. And it is they who have worked the traditional German nationalism into a new type, qualitatively the same, but using the changed rhetoric of a “European” nationalism.
It is no longer “Deutschland” but “Europa über alles” – but Europe is still essentially Germany, the German elites who best define European interests, the German economy that best guarantees them, and the German superiority as a “moral power” that has come to terms with and overcome the evil of nationalism in exemplary fashion, and is now ready to teach that to all other nations, particularly those which in their backwardness still do not understand that they must submit to this process.
Everything hidden beneath the “United States of Europe” banner that some find so tempting is essentially the old Western European imperialism and the colonial lust to maximize profits at the expense of weaker nations – projects that to us are highly toxic. We must recall once again what we have written in Do Rzeczy many times: the rush for centralization is by no means an attempt to realize some profoundly conceived idea.
As a political project, the “European state” is a fantasy that fails to take account of economic or social realities, an affront to the proper balance of power and resources, carried out in a fit of ideological madness and a perceived need to “escape forward,” to save the face of the Western European powers at the cost of Central Europe and the Balkans. In fact it is nothing more than a “heist” on Europe, which in the long term can only lead to multiple catastrophes. It would be better for Poland to avoid such catastrophes by leaving this misguided project while it still can.
I must therefore conclude with a very obvious point that should perhaps have been made at the outset: With the open launch of the process of transforming the European Community into a European State, the basis of the legitimacy of Poland’s membership of the EU has expired. This was the 2003 referendum in which 13.5 million Poles (out of almost 31 million entitled to vote) expressed the will to join an international organization which in no way resembled the structure envisaged in the plans that have now been accepted by the European Parliament’s committee, and can be expected soon to be approved by that parliament itself. The Poles have never given their consent to give up national sovereignty, to become subordinate in key areas of public life and in matters of moral norms and values to the directives of foreign authorities on whose election and actions they have no influence, and which are in no way accountable to us (or apparently to anyone except themselves).
This applies not only to Poland – but in the face of danger, we must first and foremost look after our own backyard. Every action by a Polish government, whoever forms it, that serves these efforts to change the EU treaties will be a lawless act until such time as the Poles express their view on the matter of their independence in a new referendum.
This article was first published in Polish in the Do Rzeczy weekly in November 2023.