Europe is wracked by a crisis of confidence and identity as the union prepares to celebrate 60 years since the founding six put pen to paper on the Treaties of Rome.
The union has grown to 28 soon to be 27 after Britain voted to leave.
The Brexit vote has greatly undermined the European dream.
As the awkward Brits exit stage right the latest obstreperous member is Poland.
The Poles are in a pickle over a multi-speed Europe.
Beata Szydlo is the Polish Prime Minister:
“Europe must be one, indivisible and strong thanks to the strength of all the sovereign nation states. Creating artificial divisions in our circle, a multi-speed Europe, will not produce the expected results. It can only lead to break up and a lack cooperation, when we should be moving closer.”
PM BeataSzydlo about the EU at the conference 'Integration of Europe: anniversary and new opening' at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister pic.twitter.com/bFb9VFMHP3— Polish PM Office (PremierRP_en) March 23, 2017
In heralding the unity of Europe, Poland is on thin ice. The country is the only member state to oppose the re-election of Donald Tusk as European Council president and instead of sending him a 60th birthday card Poland has issued criminal charges against its former prime minister.
Poland seems hell bent on standing up to Brussels and wants to snuff out any idea of a two-speed or multi-speed Europe as the union searches for fresh impetus post-Brexit.
In that Poland has the backing of the other members of the Visegrád Four, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
How does the #Visegrad Four envisage future of the EU? https://t.co/vWgKHVniek VisegradInsight ZahradilJan ceuhungary cepolicy pic.twitter.com/9hJqyK3Ulx— EU Public Affairs (@EUPublicAffairs) February 17, 2017
Warsaw must tread carefully the financial windfall Europe has brought has seen Poland grow at a rapid rate.
Between 2007 and 2013 Poland benefited to tune of €81.5bn.
Propped up by a further
€82.5bn between 2014 and 2020.
GDP doubled between 2004 to 2013 from €234.5bn to €486.6bn.
Growth is at 3.5 percent with unemployment running at below 10 percent.
Many Poles fear that the country is drifting towards a more populist, authoritarian future as government, media and judiciary shift to the right.
However, the fear of a multi-speed Europe with Poland on the periphery is very real.
Jacek Kucharczyk is the President of the Institute of Public affairs:“The security or geopolitical risk is that we will become a member of this central Europe grey zone between ‘real Europe and the Russian Empire and find ourselves in a position we tried to escape over the last 25 years since the fall of communism.”
1 of my customers brought me pickles from the homeland #poland #cracovia #customerservice #Framily pic.twitter.com/pLaCULrFt0— UWsmMARK (@UWsmMARK) May 28, 2014
Poland the party pooper has failed to materialise (for now) as Warsaw and the rest of the Visegrád Four have withdrawn their threat not to sign the final declaration at the EU’s birthday bash at the weekend.