The current President of the EU Council has a good reputation in EU circles, but not in Poland: he had to flee from his home country to Brussels, completely compromised. After all, his government was a catastrophe: mass emigration of young Poles, tampering with the coffers of future pensioners, corruption and benefit scandals, the Amber Gold affair, the all-pervasive nepotism in his Civic Platform (PO) party, numerous sins of omission crowned by Nord Stream.
Young unemployed people can light the torch of a revolution. If you want to secure your position in politics, you leave salaries low and open the borders. The discontented young unemployed emigrate and only those who have less motivation to take to the streets remain. In 2005 Donald Tusk did this trick, this intervention in his nation. He threw Poland into the arms of the EU: since then the population has fallen significantly due to the emigration of many young Poles. Nigel Farage aptly commented on this when he turned to Tusk in the European Parliament: ‘
Your debate is about emigration, and time and again you’ve promised the Polish voters that young poles would return to Poland, and at the same time Mr Cameron has promised the British people that fewer Poles would come to us. Well, it turns out that you’ve both been wrong and your country has been depopulated by 2 million people since you joined the European Union and the reason is obvious: it’s money, isn’t it? And you yourself prove the point. You are the newest Polish emigre and you’ve gone from a salary of 60,000 euros a year to a salary of 300,000 euros a year. So congratulations! You’ve hit the EU jackpot!”1)
What moved Tusk, besides money, to go to Brussels and interrupt his political career in Poland?
Creative accountant has sticky fingers
Donald Tusk was chairman of the Civic Platform, a quasi liberal party that is indeed as loyal to the leftist Brussels technocrats as the Polish Communist Party once was to the commissioners from Moscow. Poland’s debt under the government of the Civic Platform officially increased from 45% of 2008 GDP to 57% in 2013. If you take a close look at the creative accounting of the Polish Statistical Office, it turns out that hidden indebtedness, i. e. mainly obligations due to pensions, were not taken into account. If this were done, the indebtedness would amount to almost 200% of GDP.
If you take a closer look at the data, you will notice that national debt fell abruptly in 2014. A success for the Civic Platform government? Not in the least. It is more like a theft from the pockets of Polish citizens, which Tusk mercilessly carried out together with his ministers in order not to exceed the EU’s deficit limit.
In 1999 the Polish pension system was fundamentally reformed as it was largely a remnant of communism and demotivated people aged 55 and over from earning their living until 65 while it was more worthwhile for them to go into early retirement. In view of the declining birth and fertility rates as well as the deficit in the pension system, the government decided to switch from pay-as-you-go public old-age provision to partially private pensions.
Three “pillars” of the pension system were introduced. Since then, the compulsory contributions for the first pillar must be paid to the Central Insurance Institution (ZUS) by all employees; contributions to the second pillar now only had to be paid by those who are permanent employees, which should limit the shadow economy and increase the official number of employees. The second pillar consists of private pension funds that may invest in shares and government bonds. It ensures that future pensions will not be as low as if there were only paid out from the first state pillar. By 2013, Poland’s private pension funds had raised over 300 billion Zloty. With Poland threatening to exceed the 60% budget deficit limit set by the EU, Donald Tusk decided to take hold of his people’s pension savings and in 2014 nationalised the 51.5% of the deposits in the second pillar. The budget hole was thus plugged in the short term, while the Poles were deprived of 150 billion euros of their savings. However, demographic developments in Poland show that the manipulated pension system has no chance of surviving. In future, there will be too few people who are able to work and who will be able to pay pension contributions:Tusk isn’t so far-sighted, though. He has always been more interested in his career than in what will happen to his nation through his decisions.
The Polish Capitano Schettino2)
While Tusk was prime minister, the scandals sprouted like mushrooms: the gambling law affair in which Tusk’s sports and interior minister was involved; the scandal about Polish shipyards in Szczecin and Gdynia and many large state-owned enterprises, which Tusk’s Minister of State Property, Aleksander Grad, sold to foreign investors for a few pennies; numerous corruption scandals in which members of the Civic Platform were involved not only in Warsaw, but also in many regions of Poland.
How about the young people? Did they not take to the streets to protest against the corrupt government? Not this time. When Tusk reached the height of impertinence and wanted to join the controversial ACTA agreement, in which many young people saw restrictions on their freedom on the Internet, a wave of protests swept across the country: a total of some ten thousand people took part, many of whom were injured. Captain Tusk, however, remained steadfast and had the treaty signed. He held the course along the dangerous cliff towards the next affair.
This one, however, proved too hard even for him and his ship’s crew i.e. his faithful Civic Platform staff: Amber Gold, a shadow bank in which Poles lost PLN 140 million złotys. Amber Gold, a financial services company founded in Gdansk, Tusk’s hometown, in 2009, allegedly invested in gold and the OLT airline. In fact, it was a pyramid scheme that quickly became insolvent. Tusk did not want to save the millions of his fellow countrymen, even though he was told by the competent authorities that the company was extremely suspicious. Why? The answer is clear: at OLT was employing Tusk’s son, Michał, as a consultant.
Family in high demand
During the reign of Tusk and his Civic Platform, unemployment among young people rose dramatically to reach a record 28.2% in the first quarter of 2013. At that time it was difficult for a young person to find a permanent job unless you belonged to the family or was a good friend of someone from the Civic Platform. Nepotism affected all levels beginning with Tusk’s ministers, to the board of directors, to companies with government shares, to local offices and authorities managed by members of the Civic Platform. A well-known Polish magazine published “The List of Shame”3) which comprised 428 Civic Platform activists whose family members and acquaintances held important positions in public institutions and state agencies. In the years 2007-2012, those people earned more than 200 million złotys in total which, according to Polish conditions, is 100,000 złotys per person per year. Of course, wages were usually not paid for real work: most of these people were too incompetent to work effectively in such high positions.
Nord Stream – High Treason
Tusk himself was unreliable and lazy, especially in the foreign policy matters that are of importance to Poland. What can be considered a high treason was his compliance with Germany in the Nord Stream project. The construction of the pipeline on the bottom of the Baltic Sea to supply Germany, France and Holland directly with Russian natural gas cost 7.4 billion euros and was managed by the former Stasi officer Matthias Warnig. No wonder: an attack on Poland has to be prepared by intelligence agencies. In keeping with the tradition of the Locarno and Ribbentrop-Molotov agreements, an agreement was reached between Europe’s powers to the detriment of Poland, without anyone ever asking Warsaw for its opinion.
Until Nord Stream was built, Western Europe was often subject to breaks in natural gas supplies from Russia because, for example, Belarus did not pay for its supplies and Gazprom turned off the tap. Since the end of 2011, since the opening of Nord Streams, Eastern Europe is no longer of great political and economic importance for Western Europe: even if Russia wanted to occupy Belarus and Ukraine or punish Poland and stopped supplying gas, still supplies for Western Europe would continue via Nord Stream. The construction of the pipeline has also marginalised the Polish major ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście because the pipe is located at a depth of 17.5 metres, which means that only vessels with a maximum draught of 13.5 metres may call at the above-mentioned ports. Rostock has been saved, and Germany, France and other countries have since been able to negotiate better gas prices than Poland. Tusk didn’t do anything about it.
And not only he: Nord Stream is an example of something close to corruption among Western European politicians as well: Schröder, who signed the contract to build the pipeline, did so shortly before the elections, knowing that he and his SPD would be the losers. He then became Chairman of the Gazprom Executive Board. Paavo Lipponen, the former Prime Minister of Finland, who supported Nord Stream in his country to the fullest extent possible, was also hired by the company. And Tusk was congratulated by the grateful chancellor with the office of EU Council President. He was more than willing to accept it; after all, he had to abandon the sinking small ship (Poland) and board a bigger one, the EU Titanic.
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Featured image courtesy of Reuters