France and Germany move closer to Poland as the third hard core country, rather than adding Italy or Spain.
Leaving aside criticism of Polish judicial reforms in recent years, Paris and Berlin are seeking a special cooperation Degree with Poland so that it does not act as the European gateway to Washington's influence that the UK used to be. For the French and Germans, Poland seems a more reliable partner than Italy and Spain, whose political instability complicates the elaboration of medium- and long-term security and defence strategies deadline.
Macron with the Polish President and Prime Minister during his visit in Warsaw in February 2020 [Elysée Palace].
article / Jokin de Carlos Sola
The European committee is perhaps the most important body in the EU. It is in charge of setting objectives, it sets the diary to the Parliament and the Commission. It is in this body that the states are represented as such and where issues such as the weight of each country's population and Economics take on particular importance.
France and Germany thus achieve their high profile on the European committee , where their ideological influence over other European governments also translates into unofficial leadership of the Union. Both countries have sought to establish a special cooperation Degree with Poland in order to gain influence over one of the countries with the next largest population and thereby reduce the presence of the United States in Europe. This three-way partnership is embodied in the Weimar Triangle.
On the other hand, Brexit has opened an unofficial degree program to find out who will be the third most influential country in the European Union. All this at a time when politicians such as Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen are calling for the strengthening of a common foreign policy. The Netherlands, under Mark Rutte, has sought such a position through alliances with ideologically like-minded countries in the so-called New Hanseatic League. However, Poland also seems to have supporters for the post. Two of the larger countries, Italy and Spain, seem to have fallen out of the degree program .
Recovering a forgotten idea
The Weimar Triangle was born in 1991, with the aim of helping Poland to emerge from communism. goal . In that year a meeting was held between the foreign ministers of the three countries: Roland Dumas, Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Krzysztof Skubiszewski. With this meeting, Poland managed to get France and Germany to give it special consideration among the European countries that had been on the other side of the Iron Curtain and were soon to join NATO and later the EU (Poland joined the Atlantic Alliance in 1999 and the EU in 2004).
Since then, representatives of the three governments have met relatively frequently. By 2016 there had been eight summits of heads of state, as well as 23 meetings of foreign ministers and two meetings of defence ministers. In 2013 the three countries decided to form a battalion under EU command (one of 18), under the name group Combat Weimar or Weimar Battalion, composed of officers and soldiers from the three countries.
Since 2015, however, relations began to cool as Poland's more Atlanticist and less tolerant Law and Justice party came to power. In 2016 Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski went so far as to declare that the Weimar Triangle was of no great importance to his country. In the same year there was an attempt to revive tripartite cooperation with a meeting of the three foreign ministers to address issues such as Brexit or the refugee crisis, but without much success.
Over the next three years, cooperation declined and there was French and German criticism of the Polish government. The replacement of Waszczykowski moderated the demonstrations in Warsaw, but relations were not as smooth as they had been at the beginning. Poland's unease towards Berlin was mainly due to the construction of Nord Stream 2 (the doubling of the gas pipeline directly linking Germany and Russia); the distrust of Paris was due to its apparent sympathy with Moscow. For its part, especially after Macron's arrival at the Elysée, France began to distrust Poland because of its close relationship with Washington.
From 2019 onwards, however, a new rapprochement began to emerge. France came to believe that it was better to keep Poland close and thus keep the US at arm's length, while Poland felt that it could actually make its proximity to France and Germany compatible with US military support to defend itself against Russia. In February 2020 Macron visited Warsaw and met with President Duda and Prime Minister Morawiecki to improve relations between the two countries and revive the Triangle idea.
Marginalisation of Spain and Italy
It may come as a surprise that Germany and France look to Poland rather than wanting to rely more on Italy or Spain, countries not only with larger populations but also larger economies. But the reasons are clear. Despite the divergences in foreign policy between France and Poland, it is undeniable that the Slavic country is able to offer something that neither Spain nor Italy can provide: stability. Since 2016, the two Mediterranean countries have been experiencing one domestic political crisis after another, forcing their governments to keep foreign policy issues on the back burner.
In Spain, no government has had an absolute majority in Parliament since 2015, and that is not likely to change. Between 2015 and 2019 there have been four general elections and two prime ministers. This status makes it difficult to pass laws, including the fundamental budget, without which no foreign policy compromise can be expected.
In Italy the beginning of the tornado began with the fall of Matteo Renzi at the end of 2016. Since then the country has seen two prime ministers and three governments. This may not be surprising in the Italian case, but certainly the perceived instability is now greater. Moreover, there is distrust from other European partners over Italy's dealings with China over the New Silk Road, something that is generally more worrying than Poland's flirtations with the US. In geopolitical terms, the possibility of a political crisis making Salvini, who has not been subtle in his admiration for Putin's Russia, prime minister is also a cause for concern.
In contrast, despite a change of prime minister and cabinet in 2018, Poland has shown a clear foreign policy line since Law and Justice came to power, as well as steady economic growth. After the victory in the 2019 elections, everything seems to indicate that Mateusz Morawiecki will remain prime minister until at least 2023. Such policy durability makes Poland a more attractive ally, despite tensions over Poland's controversial judicial reforms.
Moreover, coordination with Poland offers Paris and Berlin a way to further integrate the former Soviet bloc countries into EU decision-making.
However, the desire to create a cooperative body within the Weimar Triangle is a real challenge challenge, as each country represents, in one way or another, one of three of the foreign policy agendas that divide Europe.
Its geographical status explains Poland's position and it will not stop wanting NATO's instructions on its territory. However, it understands that it needs close allies with greater internal stability - hence its rapprochement with Germany and France - than that offered by the Trump Administration, whose international image is badly damaged, or a United Kingdom more occupied with managing Brexit than security issues.
On the other hand, Macron wants to avoid Poland replacing the UK as the representative of US policy in Europe, so he has changed his strategy to avoid alienating it by criticising its judicial reforms. Macron did not mention them in his visit to Warsaw in February this year and only encouraged 'respect for European values'. Somehow Macron understands that after Brexit he will need Poland to advance his European foreign policy plans, and that is why it is important to bring it to the conference room helm. Macron went so far as to say in Warsaw that Poland, Germany and France should lead the Union post-Brexit. He also announced the dispatch of 600 more men to Poland, which will bring the number of French soldiers in the country to 5,100.
At meeting, both leaders agreed to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, although the limitations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have slowed down some contacts, while also waiting for Economics to begin to recover. The newly inaugurated German presidency of committee , moreover, discourages Berlin from appearing overly aligned with a certain European vector. The Weimar Triangle may therefore hibernate temporarily; in any case, although this is a risky formula, if coordinated with the Parliament and the Commission, its consolidation could represent a step forward in European cohesion and governance.