24 February 2022 was one of the most tragic dates in the history of the 21st century. Unprovoked, Russia attacked its neighbour, making the blackest scenario my political faction has been cautioning against come true. War in Ukraine should make everyone realise that the Kremlin and its policy are a threat not only to our region but to the world at large. Furthermore, Russia’s aggression against our neighbour should open all of Europe’s eyes to other things.
It is more than obvious that European elites should swiftly and fundamentally revise their actions and priorities – military, political, and energy-related. Events in Ukraine have clearly shown that the energy transition model firmly enforced in multiple countries across Western Europe needs to undergo a fundamental review today. There is still time to withdraw from decisions with potentially catastrophic outcomes for the European economy and its competitiveness, and thus for successive generations of Europeans. We must abandon all illusions and attempts to engage in experimentation in favour of rational actions to boost European security, not least in the energy sector. Our voice in this matter is just as strong and loud as that which we used to advise that European dependence on Russian energy resources is a ruinous mistake: European Union energy policy guidelines have to be adapted to match current circumstances, and resolute European solidarity is another necessity. Poland cutting ties with Russian resources will most certainly not be enough. We need absolute European solidarity, and all EU states to abandon Russian gas and oil. Only then will such a move be effective and sufficiently painful to the Kremlin regime. Which, after all, is our ultimate goal. Why is this so important?
The time has come to restore a sense of community and solidarity
“(…) beyond the existing institutions, the European idea, its spirit of solidarity as a community have taken root” – all political decision-makers ought to abide by these words by Robert Schuman, a key character to the process of building the post-war order in Europe and fostering transatlantic relations. These words take on particular significance today, in view of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
While Europe has been confronted with energy transition challenges, ideology should not obscure reality. Poland will continue reminding all decision-makers responsible for setting Europe’s course of the community and solidarity Schuman referred to. These are the two key values European policy should be based on. We will never agree to changes unacceptable to the interests of Polish people, or dividing Europe into groups of privileged states and states carrying burdens beyond their capacity. We caution decision-makers against an ideological race which has increasingly less to do with care for the natural environment and is more and more a tool to divide Europe – and then to rule it.
We are deeply concerned to see the European Union abandon its foundations and its original intentions of providing an equal playing field and building space for all citizens, regardless of their country of residence. Today, European policy is attempting to force us into successive divisions and a process of building a Europe of two prosperities. Having noticed that countries of our region, Poland included, are capable of effective economic rivalry, old European Union member states wish to employ dishonest tactics to win the development race, and force Central and East European countries into the role of cheap labour suppliers and markets for their commodities. This is something we will never agree to because the capacities and aspirations of Poland and its partners go much further.
Energy security as a pillar for a modern economy
Over recent weeks, many European politicians have realised that energy security is one of the pillars supporting modern, well-developing economies. For many years, the Polish government has been engaging in multifaceted activities offering us Poles a greater sense of security and lesser dependence on Moscow’s blackmail than several years ago. Back in 2015, Russian gas accounted for 90% of Polish imports, the share dropping to below 50% before the supply cut-off. This was made possible among other things thanks to the new gas port in Świnoujście, the first investment of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe and on the Baltic Sea. Our energy security will be fostered by the Baltic Pipe, on which construction work began in 2016. By 2023, it will allow gas transmission directly from Norwegian deposits to Poland. This affords us a relatively tranquil future perspective. Will all of Europe – blindly following green ideology today – be able to enjoy an equally serene outlook?
With deep concern, we were watching Western Europe march in a completely different direction when Poland had been struggling to build her security and energy independence. Some European Union member states relinquished their control over a critical part of strategic gas infrastructure to a Russian corporation that proceeded to skilfully take advantage of the fact and continues to ruthlessly do so during the war in Ukraine. To add insult to injury, rational arguments seem to be falling on deaf ears, with West European governments enforcing successive erroneous solutions and following a course of climate policy restrictions that have little in common with rationalism. Unless the purpose ties in with a yet another Kremlin-devised game rather than rationalism. Notably, the German newspaper “Die Welt” recently revisited an accusation that Moscow supports ecological organisations whose goals involved complete European dependence on Russian raw material supplies. I personally cannot recall any of the leading ecological organisations opposing, for example, the Nord Stream gas pipe construction. I hope that the tragic developments in Ukraine will open European elites’ eyes once and for all.
Is Europe putting its head in a noose?
To us, it is obvious that the policy enforced by aggressive energy transition supporters may be twisted into a noose for the EU economy’s neck. Our voice in this matter is just as loud as the one we used to caution against making energy security dependent on Kremlin’s games and whims – not least because the poorest societies will end up paying the highest price for enforcing energy transition in its most restrictive, highly ideologised form. Even Frans Timmermans, in charge of the European Green Deal, had been disarmingly frank in admitting in an interview that the cost of green transformation will be the highest for the most destitute of European citizens, adding to their impoverishment. How do the aforementioned values – such as community or solidarity – fit in with such statements? I am astonished that Europe wishes to blindly stagger into a green revolution which may bring such calamitous outcomes, even according to its author.
To be completely clear: I wish to emphasise that we are not negating the need for transformation. We are all aware that it is a necessity. Yet we are firmly declaring that it has to be adapted to actual capacities, a process based on rational premises rather than ideology. We further wish to warn that given current technological limitations, an intense transformation implementing tempo, such as that assumed by the Fit for 55 package, will prove murderous not only for countries such as Poland but for the entire European economy and industry. One should further realise that an exceedingly restrictive climate policy could generate huge tensions: multiple western politicians are keeping quiet about the social costs of introducing their strategies. In a nutshell: we hereby appeal for reason, moderation and implementation of change in dialogue and agreement with EU member states.
European Union actions have to take into account countries such as Poland, with the transformation tempo adapted to the weakest country. It is a well-known truth that any system is as strong as its weakest link. It goes without saying that neglecting the laws of economics and placing ostensible community interests above the fate of individuals always ends badly. We have seen ample proof over the past century.
European Union energy policy guidelines have to be adapted to match current circumstances, and resolute European solidarity is another necessity. ©℗