Charlemagne: Poland’s progress

WHEN Poland joined the European Union in 2004, says Rafal Trzaskowski, its Europe minister, the old members feared it would be “as terrorising as Spain, as arrogant as France” and as keen on opt-outs as the British. Ten years later and they are more likely to come crawling for advice. Helped by large amounts of EU cash, Poland has become an economic and political role model for the rest of the club, growing by almost 50% over the decade and largely avoiding the lapses into populism or authoritarianism of some others. So it is fitting that this week Donald Tusk, who oversaw much of Poland’s progress as prime minister between 2007 and 2014, should become the first politician from “new Europe” to move into one of the EU’s top jobs. As president of the European Council, where Europe’s heads of government meet, it will fall to Mr Tusk to craft deals between 28 disputatious leaders.Poland is near the heart of many of the challenges facing the EU, from restarting growth to the Russian threat in Ukraine to the British problem. Some of this is circumstantial: Ukraine is Poland’s neighbour, Britain the top destination for its migrant workers. But it also highlights the…

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