Risks and Trends

Risks and Trends launches next week

Preview 2022-10-17
At our annual conference, we will talk about the West's cohesion, the new phase of the climate battle, the future of the EU and stagflation.


Third time lucky. Risks and Trends was initially planned for 24 January this year. However, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases at the time fluctuated between 30,000 and 50,000, and it was estimated that the official figures may have been underestimated by up to tenfold; the number of deaths due to coronavirus at the start of the year reached almost 300 per day. That is why we decided to postpone the conference until spring. However, a short while later, war broke out in Ukraine and we decided that the situation was too precarious. We did not want to organise a conference at a time of the Russian invasion of Poland's neighbour, the huge scale of the human tragedy in Ukraine, and the massive wave of refugees. So the decision was made to hold it on Monday 24 October.

Everything has changed in the past ten months... It seems like centuries have passed since January. Today we divide reality into before and during the war -a war that has practically wiped from our minds the pandemic we had been living with for the previous two years, convinced that COVID-19 would be the event opening the chapter on the second decade of the 21st century in every history book. As it is, we barely remember the pandemic anymore, even though its long-term effects are and will continue to be enormous. The digital transformation has taken off, we have revolutionised the way we work, and the consequences of government policies aimed at protecting their economies from the turbulence caused by lockdowns and broken supply chains have fuelled a crisis that will be with us for months, if not years.

...and yet the problems and challenges are the same. In January, we envisaged that the main theme of the conference would be uncertainty. This only got worse. We wanted to talk about the security of the region, the looming economic crisis, the bumps along the road of European politics and about challenges to the necessary energy transition. In a week's time, Marek Świerczyński and his guests will be discussing the West's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Robert Tomaszewski will talk about re-evaluating climate policy in the face of war, Magdalena Cedro will tackle keeping the EU together, and Adam Czerniak will discuss surviving at a time of stagflation. One gets the impression that the problems and challenges have not only not changed, but that their importance and urgency have increased.

In search of constructive conclusions. In the coming days, the moderators will be previewing their discussions and introducing the panellists in PI Premium. During Risks and Trends, we will try to assess the situation in which we find ourselves and attempt to answer the question of how to deal with the resulting challenges. For the past year, and in fact, for the past three years, we were ruled by emotion, anxiety and the strain of uncertainty. It is now time to come to terms with the uncertainty. Each of the issues under debate - the response to the war in Ukraine, the re-evaluation of thinking about the energy transition, the deep tensions within the EU and, finally, the economic crisis - are problems that we cannot resolve today or in the short term. But it is our responsibility to consider them calmly and have a frank conversation about how to return to the path of peace, stability and development.

Has Poland become a frontline country? In January, we had planned to begin with a speech by the new US ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski. The new representative of the American administration generated excitement and a great deal of interest. A little while earlier, Andrzej Duda had vetoed a bill colloquially known as lex-TVN, and Polish-American relations were extremely difficult. Today, Ambassador Brzezinski no longer needs an introduction, and Polish-American relations - while not ideal - are the best they have been since the White House resident changed at the beginning of 2021. That's why next week, I will ask Brzezinski in the opening conversation about what impressed him most about Poland in the first months of the war. We will talk about how Poland became a frontline country and what implications this has for Poland and the region. I will try to find out what lies ahead for the US-Poland alliance in the months and years to come.


This year's Risks and Trends would not take place without the support and help of our partners and friends. This year's partners include: Amazon, Deloitte, Żabka Group, Żywiec Group, IKEA, KGHM and Janssen. Our partners this year also include the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Clean Air Fund. These are the companies and organisations with whom we were privileged to work on the programme and the side events. Without you, this conversation would not have been possible. Thank you.

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Andrzej Bobiński
PI Alert

EU summit: Member States launch discussion on financing joint defence initiatives

State of play

Leaders approved appointments to top posts. At the EU summit that ended on Thursday night, they nominated Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as head of EurCom, former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa as head of EurCou and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as head of EU diplomacy. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni abstained from voting for von der Leyen and voted against Costa and Kallas. This means that Meloni is preparing for tough negotiations and may demand a high political price in return for his party's support for von der Leyen in her approval in the EurParl. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán voted against von der Leyen and abstained on Kallas.

They adopted the Union's strategic agenda for 2024-2029. Over the next five years, the Union's goals include a successful digital and green transformation by "pragmatically" pursuing the path to climate neutrality by 2050. Another objective is to strengthen the EU's security and defence capabilities.

Von der Leyen spoke of EUR 500 billion for defence over a decade. This was the EurCom estimate of needed EU investment presented by its head at the EurCou meeting. Poland and France were among the countries that expected the EurCom to present possible options for financing defence investments before the summit, such as EU financing of common expenditure from a common borrowing. This idea was strongly opposed by Germany and the Netherlands, among others. In the end, von der Leyen decided to postpone the debate until after the constitution of the new EurCom, i.e. in the autumn. And the summit - after von der Leyen's oral presentation - only launched a preliminary debate on possible joint financing of defence projects.

Poland has submitted two defence projects. These might be co-financed by EU funds. On the eve of the summit, Poland and Greece presented in writing a detailed concept for an air defence system for the Union (Shield and Spear), which Prime Ministers Donald Tusk and Kyriakos Mitostakis had put forward - in a more general form - in May. In addition, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia presented the idea of jointly strengthening the defence infrastructure along the EU's borders with Russia and Belarus. Poland is pushing for the EU to go significantly beyond its current plans to support the defence industry with EU funds and agree to spend money on defence projects similar to the two proposals. But EU states are far from a consensus on the issue.

Zelensky signed a security agreement with the Union. The document, signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels, commits all member states and the EU as a whole to "help Ukraine defend itself, resist efforts to destabilise it and deter future acts of aggression". The document recalls the EUR 5 billion the EU intends to allocate for military aid and training in 2024 (in addition to bilateral aid from EU countries to Kyiv). It says that "further comparable annual increases could be envisaged until 2027, based on Ukrainian needs" i.e. it could amount to up to EUR 20 billion. Ukraine's agreement with the EU comes on top of the bilateral security "guarantees" Ukraine has already signed with a dozen countries (including the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy). As Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed in Brussels, talks are also underway between Ukraine and Poland on the text of mutual commitments on security issues.

PI Alert

KO wins elections to the European Parliament

KO received 38.2 per cent of the vote and PiS 33.9 per cent, according to an exit poll by IPSOS. Konfederacja came in third with 11.9 per cent, followed by Trzecia Droga with 8.2 per cent, Lewica with 6.6 per cent, Bezpartyjni Samorządowcy with 0.8 per cent and Polexit with 0.3 per cent. According to the exit poll, KO gained 21 seats, PiS 19, Konfederacja 6, Trzecia Droga 4 and Lewica gained 3. The turnout was 39.7 per cent.

According to the European Parliament's first projection, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which includes, among others, PO and PSL, will remain the largest force with 181 MEPs in the 720-seat Parliament. The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), whose members include the Polish Lewica, should have 135 seats, whereas the liberal Renew Europe club (including Polska 2050) will have 82 seats. This gives a total of 398 seats to the coalition of these three centrist factions (EPP, S&D and Renew Europe) on which the European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen has relied on so far. The Green faction wins 53 seats according to the same projection, the European Conservatives and Reformists faction (including PiS) 71 seats and the radical right-wing Identity and Democracy 62 seats.