The President of the National Bank of Poland (NBP) Adam Glapiński has said changes in European Union treaties put forward by Germany and European federalists could imply the end of the Polish currency, the zloty, and of the country’s financial independence.
A report proposing 267 changes in EU treaties will be debated by the European Parliament on October 12.
It has been heavily criticised by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group representative Jacek Saryusz Wolski MEP. He has refused to back the proposals, which he said entail “a mass transfer of powers from the member states to the EU”.
The most radical revisions involve removing Member States’ veto and handing enhanced powers in a range of policy areas to EU institutions.
Speaking at a conference on the implications of the suggested alterations, Glapiński said: “These treaty changes have major economic implications that will be most keenly felt by ordinary people.”
He said he believed that a European federal state is being created, one that will be dominated by Germany. “The shell will remain the same but sovereignty will be gone,” he said.
He added that the EU Poland had joined almost 20 years ago was not the same bloc that operates today. “Poles voted to be part of the West, for security, democracy, prosperity and the free market, but what we are getting now is a European federal state with Germany in control.”
The NBP chief also said that although the euro currency was a French project it has actually served Germany and other wealthy EU states better than France. He added that it had led to the poorer states in Southern Europe losing out.
Glapiński pointed to what he said was the lack of a democratic mandate for the radical changes now being put forward. “The voters have not been consulted in referendums or in domestic or European elections on these proposals,” he argued.
He added that the treaty revisions were being proposed in an “undemocratic manner which breached all the principles of democracy but has serious economic implications”. One such, he said, was for the euro to be the only currency in the EU.
That, he said, “would mean the liquidation of the zloty, the end of our national currency, the end of our independence and the end of our own monetary policy”.
Glapiński has previously gone on record saying that, as head of the NBP, he would block attempts by any government to introduce the euro without a referendum and a change in the Polish Constitution.
The ruling Conservative (PiS) opposes the introduction of the euro as Poland’s currency. Party members said they will only consider changing their stance if and when Poland’s GDP per head reaches parity with that of Germany.
The Liberal opposition led by Donald Tusk, on the other hand, is committed to introducing the euro. That is despite the fact that when last in office he did not go through with plans to enter the currency zone due to the global financial crisis in 2008.
Tusk, while refusing to answer questions on Polish membership of the Eurozone, has gone on record saying that should he come to power he would remove the NBP chief from office. He said he would do that on the grounds that Glapiński has failed to combat inflation and protect the zloty.
According to opinion polls, two thirds of Poles oppose adopting the euro.
In Poland, the president nominates the candidate for the post of the head of the central bank and that has to be approved by the Lower House of Parliament. Glapiński is currently serving a second six-year term as NBP chief, which began last year.
Any head of the central bank can only be removed if he or she is found by the Tribunal of State to have violated the Constitution.
PiS MEP Zbigniew Kuzmiuk, writing for the portal wPolityce.pl in August last year, illustrated how a future Liberal government might introduce the euro “through the backdoor”.
He said once the fiscal and monetary Maastricht criteria were met, this could be done by joining the ERM II system, which commits the złoty to a fixed exchange rate against the euro.
“In order to apply for membership in ERM II, it would be enough for Poland’s finance minister, together with the head of Poland’s central bank, to apply to the European Central Bank proposing a fixed rate of the złoty against the euro.
“The central bank would then have to defend that set value with only 15 per cent variations allowed either way,” wrote Kuzmiuk.