FT: Investors want EU to ensure Poland ends arbitrary takeovers

(Letter to Editor FT)
Your editorial (“Bridging east-west differences in the EU”, FT View, FT.com, January 3) tries hard to be objective, but what it gains in nuance and complication it loses in clarity.

The majority of Poles do want an independent judiciary, unfettered media and a successful market economy, not a renationalised quasi-communist one. They do not feel they are at the receiving end of high-minded lectures from the west. On the contrary, they look to the west to support their struggle to protect their values against arbitrary action by a xenophobic ruling party determined to take control under the guise of “repolonisation”. It is the ruling party that objects to the “high-minded lectures”.

The EU’s biggest contribution is not regional and structural funds, important as they are, but the creation and protection of an environment in which people feel free and businesses can invest. Foreign direct investment, so important in the world’s richest countries such as Germany, the UK and the US, as well as China, has been the biggest driver of Poland’s growth.

For this to continue, investors need to know that in the event of any dispute with the government they will be protected by EU law and an independent judiciary. That their lawyers will not be arrested and that they will not be pressured into selling out on disadvantageous terms by a government whose “repolonisation” programme has so far resulted in the sale of most of the regional press and most large banks to entities controlled by the state, and therefore the ruling party, which then continue to acquire other banks and businesses. Poles wait to find out whether — having taken control of the state media, and rumoured to be trying to take control of the main financial newspaper Rzeczpospolita, and being allegedly behind 57 different legal actions against the main opposition newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza — the ruling party will also pressurise the Discovery channel into selling the biggest independent Polish TV channel, TVN.

The EU needs to know that money sent to Poland does not simply free up the state budget for expenditure on “repolonisation”.

It is a great pity that the UK, which used to support the establishment of liberal democracy in eastern Europe, is now no longer a part of the EU’s efforts and many Brexiters relish the EU’s problems instead.

Jan Ledochowski
London KT3, UK

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