Thursday

22nd Jun 2017

Poland warns of war 'in 10 years' as EU leaders scramble to contain panic

Germany, France and the European Commission are scrambling to contain panic and "quash rumours" about a eurozone break-up amid repeated off-piste messages from other senior EU politicians.

But even amid their desperate efforts, the finance minister of Poland, the country that currently represents the EU to the world as holder of the bloc’s rotating presidency, warned of war on the continent within 10 years if the eurozone collapses.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday morning (14 September) he warned of the need to act rapidly to prevent grave danger for the EU. Making reference to a recent report entitled 'Euro Break Up - The Consequences' by Swiss financial giant UBS, he declared: "There is no doubt we are in danger. Europe is in danger".

The paper by UBS, normally known for its highly sober analysis, warned that historically, monetary unions do not break up without civil war or some other form of authoritarian reaction. "The risk of civil disorder questions the rule of law, and as such basic issues such as property rights. Even those countries that avoid internal strife and divisions will likely have to use administrative controls to avoid extreme positions in their markets", it said.

The Polish minister went on to warn of a doubling of unemployment within two years "even in the rich countries".

He concluded his comments by recollecting a recent conversation he had with an old friend who is now head of a major bank: "We were talking about the crisis in eurozone. He told me 'You know, after all these political shocks, economic shocks, it is very rare indeed that in the next 10 years we could avoid a war'. A war ladies and gentlemen. I am really thinking about obtaining a green card for my kids in the United States".

He went further in his comments to reporters after his speech to parliament, saying that he had chosen his words "in a very careful way". He said that the prospect of war is not likely "within a four-year legislative time frame ... Not in the months ahead, but maybe over a 10-year time frame, this could place us in a context that is almost unimaginable at the moment".

"It is up to all of us Europeans to take the lessons of an anecdote of that kind to ensure the errors of the past do not come back to haunt us."

For their part, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are to hold an evening conference call with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou where they will discuss the crisis.

No new political or economic measures are expected to be unveiled, said one EU official. Instead the two European powerhouses will offer a robust backing to the efforts of Papandreou. "There will be a strong political message to quash rumours and speculation", the EU contact said.

The aim is to draw a line under comments from a variety of sources suggesting finance ministries are bracing themselves for a Greek default.

German vice chancellor and economy minister Philipp Roesler this week talked publicly about the scenario of an "orderly insolvency" for the Hellenic Republic. Merkel quickly hit back at Roesler, also the head of the free-market-liberal junior partner in the chancellor’s coalition, demanding: "Everyone should weigh their words very carefully."

But even as she was trying to corral her ministers behind a more optimistic line, on Wednesday, transport minister Peter Ramsauer told Die Zeit it would "not be the end of the world" if Greece were kicked out of the single currency.

On Tuesday, Dutch finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said that his ministry is exploring "all scenarios" including a possible default within the single currency. He told broadcaster RTL Z he could not comment on whether eurozone officials were preparing for a Greek default. "I can't do that in public,” he said. "I'm not denying it, but I can't confirm it either".

On Wednesday, the Dutch finance ministry stepped back from the comments, saying that default is only "a scenario".

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday also demanded an end to the "cacaphony" of proposals and rumours coming from various European quarters.

"In the cacophony of criticisms, counter-criticisms, magic bullets and miracle panaceas that are proposed on a daily basis, the truth has been drowned out that they [anti-crisis measures] have been agreed upon. But they have taken too long and have not yet been fully delivered", he told the European Parliament.

He went on to say that both borrowers and lenders involved in the new measures must now deliver on their promises.

"All these states [making economic reforms] must now demonstrate in a convincing way that they are serious. It is not enough to make plans. It is action that counts", he said.

"And those euro area member states that are providing the assistance so crucial for the survival and the stability of the euro must show even more clearly that they are determined to deliver support to countries that implement their programmes, as they have agreed", he said, in a veiled reference to Germany, the Netherlands and Finland.

“Supporting the euro is not just an act of solidarity towards others. It is an act of self-interest".

Van Rompuy warns EU is in 'survival crisis'

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has warned that the eurozone and the European Union itself are fighting for their very life as a result of the ongoing sovereign debt shocks, most recently in Ireland and Portugal.

EU President issues stark warning against nationalism

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has issued a stark warning against growing nationalism, populism and anti-democratic forces across the EU, suggesting that the threat to peace in Europe remains a key issue.

Brussels denies talk of Greek euro exit

The European Commission has denied that there is any ongoing discussion by the EU executive of a possible Greek exit from the euro after the Greek commissioner, Maria Damanaki, raised the issue on Wednesday.

Europe still has 'sleeping war demons'

Former Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker has warned of "sleeping war demons" in Europe and compared the current situation to the year before the outbreak of the first world war, when everybody took peace for granted.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal
  2. US issues warrant for VW managers, German media say
  3. EU extends sanctions against Russia
  4. Merkel denies Franco-German deal on EU agencies
  5. Dutch PM: Turkey is upholding migration deal
  6. Britain to outline rights of UK-based EU citizens
  7. Tusk can 'imagine' the UK still remaining in EU
  8. Norway offers more blocks for Arctic oil exploration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  2. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  3. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  4. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  5. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  6. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  7. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  8. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  11. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  12. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June

Latest News

  1. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit
  2. EU pressures firms to tackle online terrorism
  3. Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme
  4. Border management going virtual
  5. Tusk hints UK could stay in EU, if it wanted
  6. Merkel, Orban and the not quite closed Balkan route
  7. EU set to roll over Russia sanctions amid defence talks
  8. May to soothe EU leaders' post-election Brexit worries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformMuslims Have Unique Responsibility to Fight Terror: Opinon From Fethullah Gülen
  2. EUSEW17Check out This Useful Infographic on How to Stay Sustainable and Energy Efficient.
  3. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Criticises the Juncker Plan's Implementation
  4. The Idealist QuarterlyDoes Europe Really Still Need Feminism? After-Work Chat on 22 June
  5. EUSEW17Create an Energy Day Event Before the End of June. Join the Call for Clean Energy
  6. UNICEF1 in 5 Children in Rich Countries Lives in Relative Income Poverty, 1 in 8 Faces Food Insecurity
  7. International Partnership for Human Rights26 NGOs Call on Interpol Not to Intervene Versus Azerbaijani Human Rights Defenders
  8. Malta EU 2017Significant Boost in Financing for SMEs and Entrepreneurs Under New Agreement
  9. World VisionYoung People Rise up as EU Signs Consensus for Development at EU Development Days
  10. ILGA-EuropeLGBTI Activists and Businesses Fighting Inequality Together
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Prime Ministers Respond to Trump on Paris Agreement
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceNutrition and Heart Disease: Time to Raise Our Standards