Poland Report


Policies Developed

In recent decades, Poland has drafted quite a few documents promoting the idea of a WGA that also applies to externally directed activities. At present, a Strategy for Responsible Development for the period up to 2020 (Ministry of Investment and Development 2017) constitutes the most important and comprehensive official document concerning a WGA. At almost 420 pages, the strategy, which was adopted by the Polish government in February 2017, covers a wide range of fields, including security, economic external expansion and energy. The strategy particularly focuses on establishing an integrated system for managing hard and soft security. Mention of a WGA related to external activities can also be found in other official documents, such as laws or decrees on a national framework for cybersecurity policy for the 2017–2022 period (GCS n.d.), the multiannual development-cooperation programme for the 2016–2020 period (MFA 2018), an ordinance on the inter-ministerial team on Poland’s resource policy (Government of Poland 2016), and Poland’s defence concept (MoD 2017).
The quality of the above-mentioned documents is relatively high, but they also have some considerable shortcomings. For instance, the Strategy for Responsible Development (Ministry of Investment and Development 2017) aims to be holistic, but it is sometimes too vague in practice, such as by assuming that more concrete solutions will be worked out in the future, and it also neglects to cover some important issues (e.g. ODA, China and Russia).
Poland’s WGA related to foreign affairs should be viewed in the context of its relations with the UN, especially as far as official development aid (ODA) is concerned. The Strategy for Responsible Development (ibid.) declares its compatibility with a number of UN documents, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Poland’s multiannual development-cooperation programme for 2016–2020 (MFA 2018) also treats the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a point of reference.
However, in practical terms, the implementation of a Polish WGA in the UN context faces serious obstacles. For example, according to the above-mentioned UN documents, Poland is obliged to increase its ODA to 0.33 percent of GNP by 2030. Achieving this goal will be very challenging, and Poland doesn’t even have a comprehensive long- term plan for how to reach that level. In 2018, Polish ODA accounted for just 0.14 percent of Polish GNP. Polish ODA increased in 2015 (from 0.10% of GNP), but it has stagnated again in recent years (OECD 2019).
In the 2000s, Poland’s engagement in UN missions was very limited, and it was much more involved in NATO- and EU-led missions. The situation has recently changed to a certain degree because Poland started its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council on 1 January 2018. In consequence, Poland decided in autumn 2019 that around 200 Polish soldiers would join the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Hard security occupies a considerably more important place in the Polish WGA in comparison to those of many EU member states owing to Poland’s geographic location on the Eastern flank of the EU and NATO as well as to Russia’s increasingly aggressive foreign policies in Eastern Europe. The Strategy for Responsible Development (Ministry of Investment and Development 2017), the defence concept (MoD 2017: 30–32) and other security-related laws identify NATO (and particularly the US in the case of the defence concept) as Poland’s main partner for security-related issues. Furthermore, Warsaw was an active participant in NATO’s discussions about a WGA strategy. However, concrete linkages between the WGA of NATO and that of Poland are not explicitly mentioned in the official documents drafted by the Polish administration.
Due to NATO’s importance to Polish security, Polish deployments abroad have usually come as part of NATO- or US-led missions, such as those in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. However, it should be noted that the PiS government has dramatically increased security-related cooperation with the US since 2015, and that this bilateral cooperation has seemingly taken precedence over working in a multilateral (i.e. NATO) framework. This strengthening of bilateral cooperation between Poland and the US is presented by both sides as being based on ideological affinities between US President Donald Trump and the PiS.
The EU does not constitute a key point of reference for Poland’s WGA as it relates to foreign conflicts and crises. Generally speaking, the EU is mentioned rather rarely in Polish documents referring to its WGA. For instance, the EU Global Strategy of 2016 did not influence or inspire Polish documents regarding the national WGA, and it is not mentioned at all in the above-mentioned strategy and concept documents. Admittedly, one could say that some of them had been issued before the EU Global Strategy was even announced. But, if desired, these documents could have also been amended to include references to the Global Strategy.
In Polish documents especially focused on security, NATO occupies a much more prominent place than the EU. In contrast, when it comes to issues related to foreign affairs or ODA, the EU plays a more significant role as a point of reference for Poland’s WGA. For instance, the country’s multiannual cooperation development programme (MFA 2018: 44) states that “Poland will take care about the cohesion and complementarity of ENP with the development policy.” Of note here is the fact that the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is part of the Global Strategy. Moreover, almost 60 percent of Poland’s total ODA is transferred to the EU budget (Polish Aid n.d.). However, Polish NGOs and public institutions are only involved to a very limited degree in efforts to implement projects co-funded by the EU.
In practice, Poland’s cooperation with EU institutions and key EU member states in the WGA sphere results in a mixed picture and faces structural challenges and problems related to the most recent internal political developments in Poland. On the one hand, Poland is substantially engaged in EU-led missions in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the Western Balkans. However, Polish involvement in other EU missions is minimal or, more often, nonexistent. Furthermore, Polish deployment in EU missions operating outside of Europe has substantially declined in recent years. In consequence, Poland did not launch special WGA initiatives within the CSDP missions. In fact, since the decisive victory of the PiS in the parliamentary elections of October 2015, the domestic policies of the current Polish government have resulted in an unprecedented deterioration of Poland’s relations with EU institutions and key EU member states, making WGA-based cooperation with them in the international arena more difficult than before.
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