“Poland, and it seems Central Europe as a whole, is supporting the Old EU”, says senior banker and former advisor to the Polish government Maciej Olex-Szczytowski in an interview with PolandIN.
According to Mr Olex- Szczytowski, “neither Brussels nor Warsaw has made much of an effort to gauge the economic consequences of our membership since 2004... As a result, the Old EU’s belief that it is economically supporting Poland and the region rules unquestioningly in Warsaw too.”
Poland is already a net contributor to the EU
However, analysis shows that the opposite may be the case, argues the banker. “In truth, the data point to the opposite: we are net contributors to the Union. A rough estimate is that since joining we have supplied the Old EU with value worth around EUR 330 bn.”
Maciej Olex-Szczytowski bases his analysis on the fact that Poland has in the last 14 years received a net benefit of EUR 105 bn when taking into account funds received against budget contributions made, EUR 78 bn in FDI and EUR 48 bn in remittances from Poles who have migrated to EU states. That makes EUR 230 bn in total
However, when you add the costs of servicing the FDI (EUR 20 bn per annum), dividends on the FDI paid abroad (EUR 170 bn) and the cost of educating the 2.6 mln people who have left the country (EUR 163 bn) it’s Western Europe which emerges as the main beneficiary of Polish membership. These all add up to EUR 560 bn and mean that the net contribution to the EU is EUR 330 bn.
Mr Olex-Szczytowski admits that this figure may be reduced by factors such as Polish FDI abroad being made easier by EU membership (EUR 59 bn), migrants drawn into Poland from Ukraine and elsewhere by its access to the EU and the cheaper debt and bond holding by foreigners in Poland. But all these are unlikely to amount to EUR 330 bn.
The importance of Poland and Central Europe for the EU
Poland needs to get the message across that “the money we are sending serves to generate millions of jobs in the Old EU. We should also make it clear that Old EU corporations were able to buy into Central Europe when the region was weak, so today they have a quasi-monopoly in many sectors. Since 2004 Poland has imported goods worth Euro 500 bn from Germany alone. Central Europe is a more important market by far for Berlin than the US or China (and Russia pales in comparison).”
Poland needs to recast its EU deal
That awareness should lead Poland “to force itself into the Union’s huge strategic development programmes which the Old EU’s major governments and corporates split among themselves.” The programmes in which Poland needs to make an impact in terms of receiving funding include the EU space programme and innovation programmes.
Maciej Olex-Szczytowski welcomes the fact that free movement is “at last being questioned.” He urges Poland to seek compensation from the recipient states for the people Poland is sending”. He feels Poland should be seeking “preferential flows of EU money to Polish-owned companies, ready permission for state aid to our High-tech projects and fair access for our firms to Old EU markets, including public procurement.”
Click here to watch the full interview.