Diplomacy Economy Poland Romania Ukraine

Polish PM backs alliance with Romania, Ukraine

| 2023-04-03 5 min read

Polish PM backs alliance with Romania, Ukraine

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki laid out his hopes to build a new economic community in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) with Romania and Ukraine in Bucharest on Tuesday, 28 March, and also criticised powerful Western countries for “undermining the region”.

At the Polish-Romanian intergovernmental consultations in Bucharest, Morawiecki stressed cooperation between Poland and Romania is key to making the region’s voice better heard.

“We cannot look at the EU as those who must be listened to and must always have the best solutions transported in a suitcase to Bucharest or Warsaw,” Morawiecki said, Polish public broadcaster TVP reported.

In his speech, Morawiecki also praised Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca for pursuing a policy that aims for bilateral “cohesion, synergy and efficiency”.

According to the Polish premier, CEE countries have been used by stronger countries in the West and the East, adding that when the area first transitioned towards capitalism after the fall of Communism, “the West was making use of us for its own goals”.

The Polish delegation arrived in Romania on Tuesday. Apart from Morawiecki, the consultations were also participated in by foreign, defence, European Affairs and culture ministers, among others.

New CEE economic community

Morawiecki also suggested Poland and Romania should develop cooperation in a triangle with Ukraine, which would help to enhance investments and military strategic plans for the future and allow the creation of a “new economic community in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.”

For Ciuca, 2022 was “fruitful for the Polish-Romanian business community” as trade between the countries amounted to EUR 11bn – which represents an increase of 20% compared to 2021.

Speeches were reported by Poland’s state news agency PAP, which reported on Polish Development Funds and Regional Policy Minister Grzegorz Puda’s meeting with with Romanian Investment and European Projects Minister Ioana Marcel Bolos and Romanian Development, Administration and Public Works Minister Attila-Zoltan Cseke.

Puda said “Polish-Romanian consultations are a way to strengthen relations between our countries, which have a long history of cooperation. Relations between Poland and Romania are intense in many respects. At the political level, this is confirmed by intergovernmental consultations, which are an extremely important instrument for the development of strategic cooperation between our countries.

“We are talking today at a special moment – when the war in Ukraine and the growing determination of the European Union and NATO to stop Russia’s imperial aspirations result in a clear shift of the focus of European policy towards the countries of CEE and the Three Seas Initiative. 

“Poland and Romania may become beneficiaries of this process. That is why it is so important that as ministers, responsible for European funds and regional development, we have many common topics – which include, among others, implementing cohesion policy, macro-regional cooperation for the development of the Carpathians, urban policy and supporting accessibility,” Puda added.

Romania, Poland seek to mitigate effects of Ukraine war

The countries also discussed the future of cohesion policy and the EU budget for 2021-27, as well as the issues of cohesion policy funds in Poland and Romania.

From the 2021-27 financial perspective, Poland will receive over EUR 76bn under the EU cohesion policy funds. All national and regional programmes have already received the first advance payments. 

The money from the cohesion policy funds will stimulate innovation, digitisation, development of the research and development component and energy modernisation of the Polish economy, and will also contribute to mitigating the macro-economic effects related to the war in Ukraine.

Romania’s support for the project of the Macro-regional Strategy for the Carpathians, initiated by Poland, was also discussed as an opportunity to use the potential of the Carpathian regions. Romania’s involvement in this cooperation would make a valuable contribution to strengthening the EU’s external border and would also favour a stronger inclusion of Ukraine and its regions in the process of integration and implementation of joint projects with European partners, Puda said.

The meeting, according to PAP, was an opportunity to discuss good practice and innovative activities related to accessibility for people with disabilities, urban policy for the development of resilient, inclusive and green cities and strengthening territorial cohesion and reducing territorial inequalities in Poland and Romania. The ministers agreed on the need for further assistance to Ukraine in its fight to maintain its sovereignty.

Transport key concern at talks

During the plenary session chaired by Morawiecki and Ciuca, the infrastructure minister emphasised the importance of efficient transport during the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The implementation of joint strategic infrastructural projects, cooperation in the field of road transport and work on the EU forum are matters raised by the ministers of transport at the fourth Polish-Romanian intergovernmental consultations. 

Minister of Infrastructure Andrzej Adamczyk, as part of the sub-table for transport, met with Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Romania Sorin Mihai Grindeanu.

Adamczyk said “Romania is invariably an important partner for Poland when it comes to strategic infrastructural projects developed as part of the Three Seas Initiative. We always meet our Romanian partners as friends.

“The Via Carpatia and Rail-2-Sea routes running through our countries will mostly coincide with the course of the new European corridor being created on the Trans-European Transport Network TEN-T, which will connect the Baltic, Black and Aegean seas. We also have similar views on the regulations governing international road transport and the process of revising the maps of the TEN-T network,” Adamczyk said, PAP reported.

Bilateral talks on Via Carpatia

The talks on regional cooperation presented the state of construction of the Via Carpatia road project, integrating transport systems, including Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia and Turkey. In Poland, the construction of the Via Carpatia route is proceeding according to the assumed schedule. The entire stretch of the S19 expressway, which is the axis of Via Carpatia, has guaranteed funding under the National Road Construction Programme for 2014-23. 

In 2022, the last sections of the route between Rzeszow and Lublin were commissioned, and in the following years, sections between Rzeszow and the border with Slovakia and Lublin and Bialystok and the border with Belarus will be successively commissioned. 

The Romanian side ensures that it has secured all the necessary funds for the implementation of the project and declares that the main Via Carpatia route will be completed by 2030.

Also on the agenda was Rail2Sea, a railway construction project linking the largest ports of Poland and Romania, opening a new logistic path between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, and favouring the natural expansion of transport routes from Asia through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia to Scandinavia.

Adamczyk said “we understand that sustainable development requires diversification of transport connections, which is why we are building transport routes connecting northern and southern Europe together.”

Long-standing bilateral relations strengthening

The Polish-Romanian Intergovernmental Consultations are a permanent mechanism of institutional cooperation between the ministries of both countries and have been established as part of the Action Plan for the Polish-Romanian Strategic Partnership. The last intergovernmental consultations took place in Warsaw in March 2022.

The consultations are part of the Strategic Partnership between Poland and Romania, which was launched on October 7, 2009. The Action Plan for this partnership is currently being implemented, covering the years 2022-26.

The consultations were also attended by representatives of the following ministries: foreign affairs, culture and national heritage, national defence, infrastructure, internal affairs and administration, family and social policy, sport and tourism, development and technology, agriculture and rural development, climate and environment, state assets and education and science, PAP wrote.

Trans-European TEN-T transport network on agenda

Last December, the EU Council adopted a common position on the draft regulation on EU guidelines for the development of the trans-European TEN-T transport network. In this context, Adamczyk emphasised the need to start discussions with the European Parliament as soon as possible, so that the legislative process could be completed in 2023.

Adamczyk said “time is very important here, because we are approaching the debate on the next EU multiannual financial framework, and transport priorities should be clearly and precisely defined there, in order to create a transport network operating without interruptions, congestion or missing elements as soon as possible, connecting the whole of Europe.”

The topics of future initiatives were also discussed, including EU regulations regarding the new Euro 7 exhaust gas standards and the provisions of the Mobility Package I, PAP reported.

Adamczyk and Grindanu agreed that the current intensity of talks and joint action at the expert level should be maintained.

Polish PM opposes federal Europe, critical of EU

Last week Morawiecki also laid out his vision for the future of Europe in a speech at Heidelberg University, Germany, highlighting the role of sovereign nation-states against a European federation.

“Nothing will safeguard the freedom of nations, their culture, their social, economic, political and military security better than nation states,” Morawiecki said, adding that “other systems are illusory or utopia,” warning of a further federalisation of the EU.