Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

Interview

Eurozone is the 'real' EU, Sikorski says

  • Sikorski and Ashton: "We haven’t had any of these jobs so I believe we should have a balance" (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Poland wants to join the eurozone because it is the political heart of the European Union, its foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, has said, with the country looking to enter the single currency by 2020.

"In every annual speech to parliament I say that, in my judgement as foreign minister, we should join. I am leader of this process because, politically, we want to be inside," Sikorski told a group of journalists in Brussels on Monday (20 January).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Our judgement is that in the next decade the real European union will be inside the eurozone. And we want to be part of that."

He acknowledged that the political, financial and economic case for joining the single currency will have to be made to the Polish people, whose support for the move has slumped from a high of 80 percent five years ago, at the outset of the economic crisis, to 30 percent today.

Sikorski noted that it could take up to six years to join because "you haven't quite fixed up the eurozone."

An ideal single currency union would see "countries live within their means, have competitive economies [and] low interest rates."

But any political discrimination when it comes to top EU jobs because Warsaw is not yet a part of the 18-member single currency would be wrong, he said.

"If it hadn’t been for the mismanagement of the eurozone, for the breaking of the Stability and Growth Pact, we would be in the eurozone already. So I think it would be a little unfair to punish us for your sins."

"It would be nice if someone from our region [got a post]. And we haven’t had any of these jobs, so I believe we should have a balance."

Sikorski himself is said to be interested in taking over as EU foreign policy chief when the job comes up for grabs later this year.

"I am not a candidate. I am not running," he said when asked about the position. But he sidestepped a question on whether he would take the post if offered and already has some ideas on how it should function.

He noted that the person who takes over from Catherine Ashton should be in charge of a "cluster of commissioners" to make EU foreign policy "more holistic and more effective."

Sikorski, who was a member of the same elite club at Oxford University as British leader David Cameron, also sought to draw a line under the recent British-Polish spat over migrants.

"I hope it’s behind us," he said in reference to the war of words after Cameron singled out Polish people as exploting the UK's welfare system.

He noted that his UK counterpart, William Hague, had shown him London's plans for changing the welfare system "and I find nothing in them to protest about."

But he was more pointed on the UK's wish to the change the EU treaties - a reform which Cameron hopes to use as the basis for a referendum on EU membership in 2017.

"I haven’t yet heard the UK list of proposals of what they are unhappy about and what they would like changed," Sikorski said, adding that he thought Cameron could secure a Yes to membership as it is a "winnable" argument for the "sensible" British public.

"Certainly in Poland, we would miss Britain, we think the EU is better with Britain inside.”

Sikorski himself speaks openly and positively about the EU, saying its current political malaise - marked by concerns about democracy and the rise of anti-EU parties - could be solved by "restarting growth" and good leadership.

The EU should also be conscious of what it is and represents to other people. "Shouldn’t those Ukrainians standing in the cold give us a renewed confidence that what we take for granted is something people actually dream about?" he asked.

But partly, he indicates, the positive spirit derives from memories of Poland's near past.

"Two generations of Poles fought long and hard to free ourselves of Communism and to rejoin the West. And here we are. And we rather like it,” he said.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

MEPs set limits to Macron's ambitions

The French president tried to woo the European Parliament but found that his quest for leadership will have to abide by the rules set by the European political groups.

Analysis

Macron relaunches his bid for EU leadership

In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday and then at a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, the French president will try to get support for his EU reform proposals.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  2. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  3. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  4. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement
  5. Nahles elected new leader of Germany's SPD
  6. Report: EU budget to refocus on South
  7. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  8. MEPs urge better protection for journalists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  3. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  5. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  6. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  7. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  8. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  9. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  10. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations

Latest News

  1. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  2. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  3. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP
  4. 'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly
  5. France tightens immigration law, sparking division
  6. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  7. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  8. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  2. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  5. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  6. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  7. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  8. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  9. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  10. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  12. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?