Monday

22nd Apr 2019

Poland fears German 'inactivity' more than German power

  • Sikorski: 'The biggest threat to the security and prosperity of Poland would be the collapse of the eurozone' (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland)

Poland has issued an extraordinary appeal to Berlin to do all it takes to save the eurozone, saying that only Germany can manage the task and has a "special responsibility" to do so given its history.

In a speech in Berlin on Monday evening (28 November), Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski berated Germany for its lack of action, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel widely seen as holding the eurozone's future in her hands.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity. You have become Europe's indispensable nation."

Sikorski's words are remarkable for their candour. While there has been much muttering in other capitals about what Germany should or should not be doing, Poland is the first to come right out and say it aloud.

The Polish minister hit back at the dominant political discourse in Germany, which has focussed on the country's budgetary discipline compared to profligate southern countries as well as the potential extra burden to German taxpayers of mutualising eurozone debt.

"We ask that Germany admits that she is the biggest beneficiary of the current arrangements and therefore that she has the biggest obligation to make them sustainable," said Sikorski, adding that because investors are shunning riskier countries Berlin's "borrowing costs have been lower than they would have been in normal times."

He also underlined that Berlin has not always practised the fiscal discipline it is now preaching, having "also broken" the euro's deficit rules while German banks "recklessly bought risky bonds."

In a statement all the more powerful because of the two countries' World War II history, Sikorski noted that Germany has a "special responsibility to preserve peace and democracy on the Continent."

His words come as the eurozone crisis appears to be deepening further still. A poor German sovereign bond auction last week sparked fears that even the EU's economic powerhouse may be engulfed by the debt problems.

Meanwhile, a report on Monday by the OECD, an international think tank in Paris, offered more gloom. It predicted that the eurozone economy would be almost at a standstill (0.2% growth) next year.

"The euro area crisis represents the key risk to the world economy at present," said the report and warned of a "deep recession" if the eurozone collapses.

There have been reports of investors and even governments factoring in such an event. Reuters said Monday that CAP, the world's top broker for foreign exchange and government bonds, has tested its trading systems for the possible return of national currencies.

The UK's Daily Telegraph reported that the British foreign office has told embassies in EU countries to help UK citizens prepare for a scenario in which they cannot access their bank accounts or withdraw cash due to the collapse of the euro.

Several analysts suggest that market fears will only be assuaged if the European Central Bank, with its theoretically unlimited resources, is made lender of last resort.

However, Berlin has been staunchly opposed both on account of potential moral hazard and due to its memories of hyperinflation in the 1920s.

Merkel wants 'permanent' supervision of Greece, warns of war

Peace should not be taken for granted if the euro fails, German chancellor Merkel told MPs Wednesday ahead of the eurozone summit. Greeks deserve respect for their sacrifice, she said, but their government has to be put under "permanent" supervision.

German 'future of Europe' meeting irks partners

German FM Westerwelle has irked some of his EU colleagues by inviting only a select few to a dinner on Tuesday to discuss the 'future of Europe' after the economic crisis.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us