A farmer's tractor displays Polish flags and a sign that reads 'The commissioners' policy is ruining the hosts' during a farmers' protest on the border bridge with the Czech Republic, in Cieszyn, southern Poland, 22 February 2024. polling confirms green deal is unpopular EPA-EFE/JAREK PRASZKIEWIC POLAND OUT


Poles falling out of love with the EU?


According to the latest poll conducted by international think-tank More in Common across the European Union, just 51 per cent of Poles have a positive image of the bloc. That figure ranks as the 11th-highest in the EU.

The survey, conducted as Poland approaches its 20th accession anniversary on May 1, found that although many Poles still supported the EU, they no longer had such a rose-tinted view of the community.

While 51 per cent felt that EU membership was positive for Poland, 38 per cent were neutral with 11 per cent expressing a negative outlook.

Regarding the strength of the EU globally, 35 per cent said they thought it had increased over the past few years, while 27 per cent believed it had declined and 37 per cent said it had remained constant.

Adam Traczyk, head of the Polish chapter of More in Common, told Brussels Signal: “For many years Poles were Euro-enthusiasts, in love with the EU like an adolescent. Now our attitude is more mature, as in an old but successful marriage.”

He added: “Poles are becoming more assertive with regard to the EU and that is a sign of both self-confidence and maturity rather than necessarily Euro-scepticism.”

Data from the survey showed something of a division developing with regard to European integration. While 59 per cent said they were in favour of further integration, 41 per cent felt it had already gone too far.

This split was also evident with regard to removal of the Member States’ veto, with 52 per cent backing it and 36 per cent opposed.

Most Poles said they still believed the country needed the EU but 29 per cent said they felt Poland would be better off without it, according to the poll.

Political commentators said that was probably because in recent years the EU has become associated with unpopular measures such as its Migration Pact, alongside the Green Deal that is being linked to the likelihood of higher energy prices and costs for motorists and home owners.

Poles have also been underwhelmed by the EU’s response to helping Ukraine and irritated by delays in the disbursement of EU funding for Poland.

Traczyk acknowledged that, for many Poles, the EU now has the image of having good intentions but “making mistakes and failing to deliver”. He said that was, once again, evidence that Poles are beginning to view the EU more critically.

The survey data confirmed Poles’ dismay at declining Polish assertiveness – 47 per cent believed the country is not being shown the respect and influence it deserves within the EU. That view is likely related to the recent withholding of EU funds for Poland over alleged rule-of-law violations.

Moreover, two-thirds of Poles agreed with the Conservatives (PiS) opposition that large Member States such as Germany and France wielded too much power in the bloc.

Additionally, some 61 per cent said they believed Brussels was handling the migration issue badly and 56 per cent wanted it to remain an exclusive responsibility of Member States. Alongside that, 73 per cent said they did not want to see Poland forced to take on relocated migrants.

Some 67 per cent of Poles in the survey stated they were pessimistic about effects of the EU’s policies on climate change, believing they would lead to a hike in energy prices. The poll also revealed a 42 per cent split for and against on whether the EU should do more to combat climate change than the US and China, with 16 per cent neutral.

The PiS is likely to hope the survey findings will help it shift the debate ahead of the European Parliament elections in June regarding the EU funds the current centre-left Government led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk has proven unable to unlock.