Poland holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, but as the major issue confronting the union is the stability of the euro to which Poland has not switched (for the moment it is quite content with its zloty), it is Berlin rather than Warsaw that has been setting the tone.
Even so, Poland's finance minister Jacek Rostowski, who spent most of his life in exile in London when Poland was governed by the Communists, tried to stir up support for saving the euro. This includes both the financial steps and the organizational changes of economic governance that would be required to convince the more affluent states that they would not be called upon constantly to bankroll financially profligate countries.
The Polish minister, speaking before the European Parliament, warned that "Europe is in danger," and the breakdown of the euro zone would lead to a chain reaction leading to the breakup of the EU and ultimately to the return of war in Europe.
The Swiss USB bank had issued a similar prediction in a study that it published. The bank's study sought to persuade the EU countries that a bailout was actually the cheaper approach in comparison with what could happen in the event of a euro zone-EU meltdown.
The USB predicted mass unemployment way over and above the current high levels, the return of authoritarian government and even a slide into war. Today, unfortunately, USB doesn't look particularly good now that a rogue trader within the bank has saddled it with $2 billion of losses.
The Polish minister did not rely on the USB study, but cited a meeting with an old acquaintance who predicted "war in the next 10 years," unless the euro zone and the EU emerged from the crisis. The gentleman reported his intention of seeking US green cards for his children in case they had to flee Europe.
The Rostowski speech aroused controversy in Poland. "This is the Mount Everest of irresponsibility”, claimed Law and Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. “The governing team, including Rostowski, has already created chaos in Poland. Now it is exported to Europe, causing Poland a lot of harm,” added Kaczynski.
The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) demanded that information on EU’s financial situation should be presented in the lower house, claiming that Rostowski had no justification for making the threat.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk backed his finance minister's statement, calling it a “dramatic warning” for Europe.
The flare up between government and opposition on this and the issue of opening Poland's oil industry to Russian investment, is part of the run-up to the Polish elections next month in which Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform Party is heavily favored to win.