Date: 8 July 2019

„Thinking: Poland” – report on Warsaw Institute expert panels

Throughout the convention held July 5-7, 2019, politicians and experts discussed the activities conducted by the government and contemplated proposals for the future. Over 10,000 participants gathered at the event, who over the course of 16 plenary sessions and nearly 70 thematically-orientated panels, had abundant opportunities to listen to and engage with about 400 panelist speakers. The Warsaw Institute team and editorial staff of the Warsaw Institute Review quarterly avidly participated in the substantive expert discussion, having prepared and led two specialist panels pertaining to international affairs and energy.


Worth noting, this convention was organized in a format which resembles that of large political party conventions in Western Europe (and particularly closely to those in the United Kingdom), where, in accompaniment to distinguished politicians and public figures who have very real and paramount influence on formulating and shaping state policies, experts also contribute and take part. As a result of such initiatives, the perspectives, voices and analyses of experts – with the assemblage of think tanks – is more clearly heard and thereby facilitates the genuine inclusion of this environment in the formulation of public policies. This event presented superb opportunities and formal platforms to present the analytically-orientated accomplishments of the Warsaw Institute and the latest issue of the English-language quarterly, The Warsaw Institute Review.


Specialist panel: The European Union facing contemporary challenges

The first specialist panel organized by the Warsaw Institute, titled “The European Union facing contemporary challenges”, examined the various conundrums within the European Union in the post-May elections scenarios, alongside some specific internal and external challenges which the Community is facing at present, and will likely be in the near future. Throughout the panel, the most pressing of these were elaborated on, such as the crisis in the Eurozone, or those more unpredictable for the stability of the EU, namely Brexit or certain migration-related policies. Another increasingly approaching challenge may also likely be clarifying the position of the EU begins to take towards NATO and with this, shaping transatlantic relations intertwined with the new strategy in the EU’s defense and foreign policies. Effects of these on the EU’s sustainability and durability were discussed; whether Poland is prepared for this and whether our interests can be pursued and then implemented in such a new order. Hence, the trajectory for which Poland is designated in the next 5 or so years within the EU is also arguably imperative for Poland’s future position in Europe as a whole, and moreover, Poland’s position and role in the world. The panel was attended by: Dr. Krzysztof Rak (Director of the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation), Marcin Przydacz (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland), Paweł Musiałek (Member of the Jagiellonian Club Management Board), Prof. Arkady Rzegocki (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Marcin Roszkowski (President of the Jagiellonian Institute). The panel was moderated by Izabela Wojtyczka (Vice President of the Warsaw Institute and Editor-in-Chief of The Warsaw Institute Review).


As the first in this panel to introduce an expert input, Dr. Krzysztof Rak presented on the theme of ‘New Constellations and Challenges in Europe as an opportunity for Polish foreign policy’. He pointed out that trade surplus is causing a serious political crisis; and with this, President Macron’s concept of the transfer union is aimed to settle the problems. Poland displays competence in being able to get along with other states and create meaningful coalitions, among which the Visegrad group is an example. The most recent summit in Brussels shows that the V4 does acquire political subjectivity. Poland in Europe has more and more room for maneuverability, because Europe is currently undergoing a process of alleviating pressure from hegemonically-ambitious powers and Poland can, and ought to, take advantage of this momentum by conducting a more leading, initiating and active foreign policy.

In his speech ‘The Strategy in Eastern Policy’, Minister Marcin Przydacz illustrated how it is difficult to describe the policies Russia pursues as anything other than aggressive and imperialistic, which is in line with the thesis Putin put forward a few years ago, asserting the view that the collapse of the USSR was the greatest geopolitical calamity of the 20th century. This would be indicative of Putin attempting to reconstruct the empire, and where he is unable to do so, to consolidate or build on bilateral relations. A distinct example of this is the tenacity of ‘frozen conflicts’ persisting in several countries, inasmuch so that there is hardly any way for these countries to effectively integrate with the structures of the EU or NATO. On the other hand, there are Eastern Partnership states, such as Georgia and Moldova, which are at the most advanced stages of integration. According to the Minister, the European elections and what is now happening in the Community is a moment of change we cannot oversleep, and thus we should be even more active at the European level. However, we need to complete this idea by filling the lower level staff with people from the region. At the administrative level, various numbers of small micro-decisions which accumulate and therein make a larger scale cumulative impact and, in effect, larger decisions.

In the presentation of ‘Perspectives for Central Europe’, Paweł Musiałek put forward the thesis that in the near future we will be witnessing an increase in tension between old and new members of the European Union. According to him, these divisions were long visible and will be even more so. In his first argument, he pointed out that there is a growing disparity between the aspirations of this region and the degree of their satisfaction. In our region of Europe, the recent elections were won by parties which indicated a more assertive policy towards the European Union. The decision-making positions of the EU still lack representation of the countries of our region, which shows that the region’s influence on the European Union is still too weak. Whether or not a person becomes an MP – the rapporteur is still influenced by the division into the old and the new parts of the EU, and not by other factors, such as gender or the experience of working in the European Parliament. In today’s situation, the leaders of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are increasingly rebelling against this. Musialek pointed out the economic factors as the second argument, while recognizing that more and more countries, including Poland, are stressing the change in the current model and, in his opinion, this will give rise to some political tensions. In other countries there is a discussion whether, for example, Czechs and Slovaks are not too dependent on the automotive industry in Germany. Accordingly, we will observe further actions for growing protectionism. Paweł Musiałek pointed out that the developed model of the Three Seas Initiative format is sufficient, but it is lacking at the operational level. In this, it would be a good idea to create Trilateral Universities, which constitute a research center, which would treat the project of the Trójmiasto i.e. the ‘three-cities’ of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot, as a priority. Additionally, he pointed to positive aspects related to Poland opening to the Western Balkans. In his opinion, Poland should be present there not only at the level of development and social aid, but also should add some mass to do more in these Balkans. As such, it can be deduced that this would be why the Western Balkans Summit in Poznan should be the beginning, not the end of what can be done in the context of assistance and the development of this region.

Ambassador Prof. Rzegocki during his speech titled ‘Relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union in the context of Brexit’, clarified that with regard to Brexit, all scenarios are effectually still possible. Notwithstanding this ambivalence and abundant inconclusiveness, Prof. Rzegocki argues that the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union will have persisting long-term effects on EU policy. Evidence supporting such an argument includes that: the United Kingdom is set to remain one of the most important partners of the European Union, is the second largest economy in the EU, and the fifth economy in the world, as well as having long-existing broad links with the global trade system. The professor maintained that whilst we are witnesses to the formation of not only select intra-EU changes which ought to answer the impending absence of the important player that is the United Kingdom, but also changes to the formation of the United Kingdom’s parliamentary system are noticeable. What is certain at the moment, however, is that the UK puts more effort and resources into bilateral relations with EU member state countries. A factual example of this that could be argued is that recently there has been an increase of 550 posts in the Embassies in European Union countries. The United Kingdom with Poland are snowballing bilateral contacts with increasing intensity. In 2016, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed on a strategic partnership; a development of significance. Poland does lose the most from the exist of Great Britain from the European Union because they are amongst our most important strategic partners, yet on the other hand, both countries maintain the utmost conviction that building bridges and connections based on security, culture, science and economy is in the interest of both countries, and it is hence currently being built with unusual intensity. Hence, we ought to keep in mind this important aspect. In his opinion, regardless of the form in which Brexit comes about, whether ‘harder’ or ‘softer’, the United Kingdom will remain a very important partner for the European Union and for Poland.

Finally, the energy policy of the European Union was the subject of the input by Marcin Roszkowski, who pointed to the acute discrepancies in the understanding of energy security. He underlined that regulations are created in a certain symbiosis with the supply of energy fuel, which in a considerable part (and for some countries, the vast majority) is gas coming from a single direction – the Russian Federation. This consequently raises some problems for having a consistent understanding, and then implementation, of these regulations; each individual countries in the Community have varying raw material and natural resource situations. He emphasized that in businesses, Russia uses various methods of sales support, among others through designated agencies and adamantly strong lobbying, however, Poland and other countries do not require such a model. The best example to support this thesis is the former German Chancellor who advances in Russian energy companies – according to whom it is denigrating European solidarity across various elements, and in energy matters being a prime example. The Russian Federation bilaterally plays out the individual countries of the European Union. It should also be noted that Poland cannot build gas-fired power plants by itself and does not develop these technologies, while not preparing its own economy for such a possible feat. What should happen in geopolitics is the an even more authentic diversification of sources of energy resources – including through the Gasport in Świnoujście or the Baltic Pipe project.


Specialist panel: Geopolitics of Energy

Swiftly following on from the concluding points of the first specialist panel, the second part of the specialist panel “Geopolitics of Energy”, organized by the Warsaw Institute, presented strategies to counteract the dependence on the supply of natural gas and crude oil, used for the purposes of economic independence of the Polish economy. The discussion was moderated by Izabela Wojtyczka (Vice President of the Warsaw Institute and Editor-in-Chief of The Warsaw Institute Review). The panel was attended by: Minister Piotr Naimski (Member of the Polish Parliament, Government Plenipotentiary for strategic energy infrastructure); Janusz Kowalski (former Vice President of the Management Board of PGNiG SA, member of the Energy Security Team at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński); Dr. Krzysztof Księżopolski ( Warsaw School of Economics); Igor Wasilewski (President of the Management Board of PERN SA); and Krzysztof Rogala (the Second Vice-President of the Management Board of Europolgaz SA).


The panel opened with a lecture titled ‘Geopolitics of the Energy Mix’ presented by Minister Piotr Naimski. In striving for our country’s decision-making sovereignty in energy issues, the Minister accentuated that Poland has two geopolitical strategic goals. Firstly, it is to relieve itself from Russia as a supplier of energy resources and secondly, ergo, to cleverly position Poland within the European and global structures, in such a way that would enable Poland to genuinely be a full member within these, in order to correspondingly implement Polish interests to full extents. He elaborated on how we should participate in fashioning new trends, take part in those savvy investments that provide the possibility of quick access to new technologies, such as hydrogen storage. Access to these sources of knowledge and technology is as important in the future as access to raw materials and natural resources. Therein, the Minister moreover added that the Polish-American energy dialogue is developing remarkably well in practice.

Following on from this, Janusz Kowalski was next to present his expert input, which was titled ‘Natural gas – cases of dependence and cases of supply dependence relief’. He elaborated on how the Polish state began to operate more effectively in the area of ​​energy infrastructure. Kowalski underscored the vital meaning of the Northern Gate, which consists of the ‘President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński LNG terminal in Świnoujście’ and the project of the ‘Northern Corridor’, establishing a gas connection between Poland, Denmark and Norway by means of extending the existing infrastructure as well as adjacently constructing a new gas pipeline, the ‘Baltic Pipe’. The Polish Government, he noted, is responsible for the diversification of gas supplies. Unambiguously in context of the impending end of the Yamal contract, implementing bold and needed investment projects is necessary in securing the interests of Polish citizens for generations. Moreover, he illustrated how diversification of the state-owned gas giant’s portfolio – PGNiG S.A. – for products related to LNG or the expansion of business activities in new segments will bring in effect measurable, tangible profits for the economy in its entirety, rather than isolated effects.

Following this, the presentation titled ‘Geopolitical importance of oil pipelines and the Gdańsk Naftoport’ was delivered by Igor Wasilewski. He ensured the audience was familiarized with the situation regarding contaminated oil from Russia and the relevant test for oil companies in Poland. In the second half of June of 2019, over 1 million tons of organic chlorine came from Russia and into the Polish transmission system via the Druzhba pipeline, contaminating the inflow. On April 24, 2019, at the request of clients, PERN S.A. stopped inflow from the pipeline from Russia. The resumption of part-time flow took place only on June 9, i.e. after 46 days. Here, a sample inflow after blending went into processing for inspection. It was swiftly revealed that the system still has about 6 percent pollution, and complete removal of the pollutant contamination may take several months. At the time, PERN S.A. has been serving refineries on a regular basis, transferring oil flow from inventories and delivered by sea through the Gdańsk oil port. He stressed that the situation was maintained so that customers at petrol stations would not be affected by this situation. Today, refiners are processing raw materials not only from Russia, but also from many other parts of the world – from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states, from USA, Canada, Nigeria, Angola, Kazakhstan and North Sea submarine deposits as well as native deposits – from the Baltic Sea. Naftoport is the only sea terminal for trans-shipment of crude oil in Poland and the largest domestic terminal for reloading refined product. The company’s potential enables the trans-shipment of 36 million tons of oil and 4 million tons of petroleum product annually, providing the opportunity to fully cover the needs of refineries connected to the pipeline system of a company operating oil pipelines and warehouses. With this, Igor Wasilewski illuminated the picture of how the diversification and development of infrastructure is the key to security, and thus PERN implements, inter alia, investments such as the Boronów–Trzebinia pipeline, the second stage of construction of fuel tanks, or the second arm of the Pomeranian pipeline.

Building on from these, the fourth lecture was concerned with ‘the impact of the diversification of natural gas supplies and new technologies of electricity generation on the “geopolitics of energy” and economic security of Poland’, authored by Dr. Krzysztof Księżopolski. He pointed out that in terms of energy geopolitics, one should highlight the following problems: lack of sufficient and own resources of oil and gas; the use of hydrocarbons as a political and economic tool for Russia’s influence on Poland; increasing pressure from the European Union, including so from its strongest countries (Germany and France) as well as global regulations on the power sector; high volatility of oil and gas prices on global markets; as well as institutional, cultural and analytical weaknesses, including effects from disinformation. In his opinion, the strategic goal of Poland should be: independence from gas and oil supplies and development of new technologies, such as: renewable energy sources, electromobility and energy storage methods. According to Księżopolski, the focus should be on medium-term effects, that is, limiting the price and political pressure on Poland and increasing the importance of our country in the region and in consequence for the long-term i.e. stable sustainable economic growth, independent of price volatility, and offering products and services with high added value, reducing the importance of Russia by being concerned with key export goods, namely oil and gas. In summarizing up the lecture, he stated that it is necessary to develop new energy technologies, such as renewable energy and energy storage, which will be used for the needs of its own economy and will become an export commodity that strengthens the competitiveness of our economy. Energy policy can and ought to make use of technological advantages. The diversification of oil and gas supplies is crucial in the context of Russia’s aggressive policy and in providing opportunities i.e. this is a strategic maneuver. Citizens expect that they will produce electricity themselves, using available technologies, which is a challenge for energy, innovation, economic and fiscal policy.
Finally, the subject of Krzysztof Rogala‘s expert input was ‘Low-emission sources of electricity in EU regulations’, in which he covered aspects related to the notions of the low- and zero-emission economy. According to the speaker, the objectives of the climate policy (COP, IPCC, EU) should be divided into three time horizons: 2030, 2050 and 2100. Primarily, under the climate and energy policy up to 2030, the European Union pursues three main goals: for there to be a reduction of at least 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels, for the ensuring of at least a 27 percent share of energy from renewable sources in total energy consumption, and increase energy efficiency by at least a likewise 27 percent. It should be noted that pursuant to the ‘Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community’, Art. 1 states that ‘It shall be the task of the Community to contribute to the raising of the standard of living in the Member States and to the development of relations with the other countries by creating the conditions necessary for the speedy establishment and growth of nuclear industries’.

Also, ‘European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2015 on Towards a European Energy Union (2015/2113(INI))’ states that nuclear energy makes an extremely important contribution to the European energy system, causing lower CO2, while reducing dependence on imports, ensuring stable electricity production, which can be used on the internal market and create a stable basis for the energy system in which it is possible to gradually introduce energy from renewable sources. In fact, the current support mechanisms (investment support for research projects) are hardly or not at all directed at supporting the development of electricity generation from low-emission sources other than renewable energy sources (RES). Additionally, emission allowances do not have the effect of stimulating the construction of low-emission sources other than renewable energy, due to the capital requirements of the former. Summing up his speech, Rogala pointed out that it is difficult to expect that with such a structure and support instruments for low-emission energy other than renewable energy, it will develop in the coming years and support achieving the long-term strategic vision of a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy.


During the event, we had the opportunity to present the activities of our institution to many politicians and experts, as well as to familiarize them with our unique publication about the late President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński (Lech Kaczyński, President of the Supreme Audit Office in 1992-1995).

We invite you to view our gallery from the event.

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