I know that there are problems with fulfilling the budget of the European Union. How serious are they?
Bogdan Rzońca: These are problems resulting from the fact that the European Union as a whole project is currently heavily indebted. After Covid, when the NewGenerationEU economic recovery plan was prepared, it was proposed – and implemented – that the EU would take out a loan of almost 800 billion euros. Now there is a huge discussion about what to pay for it. The loan has been approved, it is being implemented, which means that the Union is indebted. Out of this EUR 800 billion, EUR 200 billion has already been spent on some countries through the so-called national recovery plans and the search for funds to repay this debt is ongoing, as there is a fear that this repayment will be a very heavy burden for the European Union. EU is looking for the so-called fresh money. There is a proposal to supply the budget from the ETS. This is the new tax procedure. They are to help pay off this debt. Firstly, the carbon tax (carbon border adjustment) – it is prepared but not implemented. There is an ongoing discussion and there are also protests, so it seems that this tax will not be accepted by 27 countries soon to be used to repay the debt. The second issue is the tax related to the ETS. So far, for example, Poland sells CO2 emission allowances and we get 100 percent income from this sale to the Polish state budget. There is a proposal that 25 percent of this money went to the budget of the European Union. The third is a tax on big companies, and that fails too because big corporations protest. Their concern is that this search for new money to pay off the budget is very burdensome.
The second thing, probably the most topical at the moment, is the issue of the crisis and recession in the European Union. There is a risk that it is not known what the income of the European Union will be in 2023. The documents that I have show that there is even talk of stagflation in the European Union, there is talk of persistent inflation. It is said that in 2023 the average GDP in the EU will be 0.3 percent, which means that there is practically no economic growth, and the tasks of the multiannual financial framework are still being implemented, the multiannual budget is adopted and all payments should be secured. Of course, there is also a discussion on whether all these post-covid and war complications will not mean that it will be necessary to increase the contributions of individual countries to secure expenditures from individual policies – whether agricultural policy or cohesion policy. This is the current problem, which shows that the European Union’s budget is very tight, that there is talk of limiting this budget for 2024, that in 2023 there may also be so-called transfers from the multiannual financial framework. For the first time in the history of the EU, around June-July this year, the multiannual financial framework will be reviewed, which means that there may be a situation where, for example, there will be changes in the proposed expenditures in the cohesion policy, agricultural policy or security policy. Expenses may change, restrictions and transfers may be introduced, because all political groups in the EU are demanding a revision of the multiannual financial framework, and this is a very big challenge. The Commission has said that before the holidays – in June or July – it will present to us such a revision of the multiannual financial framework.
Another problem is climate policy, underestimated, but still very loud. This climate policy leads to a situation where when we ask about expenses, about the costs of this climate policy, no one can answer how much this greening of the economy will cost, how much all these “Fit for 55” packages will cost. This is a very big problem for all political groups, because this policy of the Green party is very repressive, one could even say blackmailing other groups. Hence, there is a discussion whether all these climate goals, which have been set a little ideologically, will be feasible at all. The financial situation of the EU is therefore very complicated. It may even end up with increased contributions from individual states to implement the policies of the European Union. How Poland pays 1.23 percent gross national income as a contribution, then maybe there will be a proposal to pay 2 percent and every country will have the same situation. We don’t know which way it will develop. There is probably still some time, but there is also a big fear that the economic competitiveness of the European Union is currently losing to China, to the United States, which will release USD 370 billion into the market through, for example, Biden’s inflation act. There is a lot of talk in Brussels about the fact that European companies, big companies, want to move to the United States. This would indicate that there will be less taxes in Europe and all the perturbations associated with it.
The European Union announces the creation of further aid funds for the green transformation. Polish MEPs are not listened to at all. The Polish voice cannot break through this EU “green” mainstream. What does this mean?
We try to be Eurorealists and implement our policy in conjunction with the Polish government. Of course, we are worried about the EU, but we are even more worried about Poland, about our economic situation. I believe that we should take care of Polish affairs as much as possible. Hence our realism and criticism of what the European Union proposes.
The Polish government has done everything that the European Commission has asked to mobilize money from the Reconstruction Fund for Poland. Is one of the reasons why the European Commission does not want to use these funds because it wants to “save” expenses on Poland?
I think there’s a more complex issue here. Basically, the point is that Poland is a big obstacle to building a single European state, because the coalition that currently rules the European Union wants to create a European state, and we do not agree to that, we guard our sovereignty, we say that the Polish Constitution is the most important legal act. Our signals come across such an attempt to force us into submission through various types of sanctions and penalties. In this package of various restrictions, one should look at the fact that we are trying to meet the expectations of the European Union, and there are more and more of these expectations. Some are unfeasible. In my opinion, we cannot renounce the Constitution of Poland, the government will never do it. The sovereign – and it is clearly written – in Poland is the nation and from this side we will defend our position very hard, even when penalties will be imposed. Later, I think, all these penalties will be canceled for us. Of course, the condition is that the composition of the European Parliament and the CJEU must change, because there are also politicians who are very susceptible to the pressure of the liberal, socialist Europe of one state. We must somehow explain to the Polish society that our attitude does not result from unwillingness to cooperate with the EU and implement certain common EU policies that are good, but it results from the fact that we are an obstacle to the construction of a European state. It can be done. This should be done calmly, although I am sorry that EU politicians are acting like this at the moment, as if they did not see that Poland is helping Ukraine, that it is defending the EU in this war, Putin’s aggression against Ukraine. This is not noticed here, and there is even a belief that the closer to the October elections in Poland, the pressure on the Polish government will increase. The point is – and some EU politicians do not hide it – to overthrow the government of the United Right in Poland and remove this obstacle to the construction of a European state.
Yes, but it’s really two birds with one stone. On the one hand, an attempt to remove the current ruling coalition, but on the other hand, if the EU does not pay the money, it remains at its disposal. Perhaps even other negotiated funds are at risk. The Polish government had very good negotiation results when it comes to, for example, the Cohesion Funds. Aren’t they also endangered?
It’s not something I can put my finger, that they weren’t in danger. There may be more of these blackmails. The Union has its terrible financial problems and we have already talked about that. Of course, the money that is not spent, but is held by the European Union, also reduces the value of the European Union, because societies do not live on money alone. They live from investments and investment trading, among other things, and from work. So I believe that the European Union is making a mistake by holding money and not giving it to Poland for political reasons. These are such apparent savings, and we hear from everywhere that further blackmails can have a very different dimension, they can even reach for money from the multiannual financial framework, from the EU budget. It would be tragic and absolutely groundless, but in politics it is so that if a group of parties holds power, a group of socialists, liberals, this group simply wants to deprive the right wing of government in Poland and we can expect further restrictions, but we must stick to our.
Interview by Anna Wiejak