Last Friday, the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung in cooperation with ALDE Party organised a Liberal breakfast discussion where European liberals based in Brussels had the opportunity to listen to, and engage with, Nowoczesna Leader Ryszard Petru.
During this session of the Liberal Breakfast, it was Poland that the debate was focused on, as it has seen many remarkable changes for the better since joining the European Union. However, in the last few years these changes seem to come undone. To better understand what is going on and to elaborate on this, the leader of the Polish ALDE member party addressed the liberals of today and tomorrow.
With populism still going strong, the opinions of Mr Petru about this phenomenon were equally as strong. First and foremost, he is, like many others, concerned with the rise of populism and made it clear what can be lost if the peoples of Europe chose this path: “Within Poland, things have changed much in the last few years. The main changes that concern me are the fact that the constitutional court is being corrupted by the populist PiS party and that the advent of government propaganda, once thought of as a thing of the past, has made its way back into the daily lives of the Polish people. More recently, it has become evident that even the education system does not seem to be immune to the strong hand of the PiS party.”
The leader of Nowoczesna told the audience that he is convinced that with regards to foreign affairs, “security and migration issues will likely be the main subjects that will dominate the Polish debates.” He foresees that “with a strong French commitment to work together with a strong Germany, the EU will likely reform at a speed unseen for many years now”, and went on to state that “as the Polish people are very pro-EU on average, international political climate-change will likely weaken the popularity of the populist PiS party in favor of Nowoczesna if the hitherto mentioned subjects are brought to the fore properly, as they concern the Polish people very much.”
For Poland to continue to grow, Mr Petru is convinced that his party “needs to push for Poland to join the Eurozone, solve the migration issues, reform the energy sector, and integrate matters of defense on an EU wide scale.” However, he remains adamant that these issues “must be implemented in such a way that they benefit the people.”
The focus of Ryszard Petru on all of these issues is to “end up with a win-win situation for both the countries and the peoples, something that can only be done if we stick to liberal values and keep cooperating on liberal terms. The economy is getting better and there is liberal hope when looking at the results of the elections throughout Europe this year. However, populism is by no means defeated, so we must always be wary, ready, and up for a fight.”