As the EU Falters a New ‘Empire’ Could Rise in Eastern Europe
New thinking about old ideas, refashioned for the modern era, could promote an interesting revival offering benefits to everybody
The European Union is undergoing a period of extreme transformation if not collapse, but far from it all being doom and gloom new avenues for international cooperation are opening up.
One pact which seemed firmly consigned to the history books as recently as five years ago suddenly looks like a good idea again. I am referring to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, originally created over six hundred years ago to counter the threat of a rogue “crusader” state of Teutonic Knights based on the Southern Baltic coast.
For the better part of its 400 year history it constituted one of the largest polities in Europe and encompassed all of today’s Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, as well as the majority of Poland, Ukraine, Estonia and even a small part of Russia.
The Commonwealth occupied the plain to the north and east of the Carpathian Mountains with further natural borders on the Baltic and Black Seas. The main weakness was posed by the lack of natural/defendable borders with Russia to the east and Prussia to the west and north, which eventually led to it being overrun by three military superpowers of the late 18th century: Russia, Prussia and Austria.
Following World War I, an extended version of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was proposed by Poland and the term “Intermarum” was coined — the proposal was rejected, which arguably helped the Nazis and Soviets pick the region apart less than two decades later.
At the moment, Poland is housing ever more factories and back offices which produce for or service Western EU countries: mainly Germany where a quarter of all Polish exports end up; whereas the biggest exporters to Poland are Germany and Russia.