Debates are currently taking place about refor-ming the European Union. Expectations are high, especially of Germany. Whereas some are hoping for Berlin to take an active, pro-European approach, others accuse Germany of domineering Europe.
These tensions are also reflected in Polish German relations. From Berlin’s perspective, Poland is not only a neighbour linked to Germany by a difficult history, but also an important, economically dynamic player in the European Union. However, different views on topics such as overcoming the challenges posed by refugees and immigration, the future of the ‘European project’, and the rule of law have resulted in an increa-singly difficult relationship, thereby limiting the potential for cooperation on European policy. In view of the current political differences between Berlin and Warsaw, it is of particular importance to understand public opinion on the Polish-German relationship in the European
context, as well as on the future challenges facing the EU.
- Polish views of Germany’s European policy have deteriorated in recent years, but the majority of respondents continue to believe that Germany is contributing towards better coope-ration in Europe rather than aggravating division.
- Nevertheless, many Poles accuse Germany of domineering. Germans are highly critical of Poland’s conduct in the EU. Poles often express divided opi-nions about their government’s European policy.
- Despite their historical experience, fewer Poles view Germany as a potential threat than in the past. A majority even believes that a stronger Bundeswehr would enhance their own security.
- Poles still point to the United States as the most important partner for close bilateral cooperation. For Germans this country is no longer a vital ally, but neither do they view Poland as a priority partner. In contrast, Poles hope for close cooperation with Germany.
- Compared to their German counterparts, fewer Polish respondents view the threat of po-pulist movements to democracy and the rule of law as a key challenge to the European Union.
- A plurality of respondents in Germany and Poland are in favour of deepening European integration. However, one-fifth of those surveyed in each country believe that integration has already gone too far.