German-Polish Relations. Analysis of the Past, Current and Future Trade Relations

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2013

23 Pages


List of Contents

Poland – a brief insight

Review of bilateral relations
Historical relations
Political relations
Economical relations
Cultural and educational relations

Analysis of the current situation
Poland’s economy
Bilateral trade
Trade Agreements and Organizations

Outlook – a SWOT analysis

List of References

Poland – a brief insight

The Republic of Poland is located in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east and the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south. With 312.679 km², Poland is the 9th largest country in Europe and is only a little smaller than Germany which covers 357.021 km². In 2010 Poland had a population of 38, 2 million people whereas Germany is, with 81, 8 million inhabitants, the most populous member in the European Union. The Human Development Index is 0,813 (39th place) in Poland and 0,905 (9th place) in Germany and therefore high in both countries.

Poland’s currency is called Zloty and 1€ equals 4,065 PLN.

Poland’s capital is Warsaw which is also the seat of government. Poland is a parliamentary republic with a constitution from 1997. The head of state is President Bronislaw Komorowski and the head of government is Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The president is elected by popular vote every five years and the parliament is elected under proportional representation. Poland is a centralized state which consists of 16 voivodeships. In contrast to Germany these administrative regions do not have any characteristics of a federal state.

The current Polish Minister of Economics Janusz Piechocinski came into office in December 2012. He is also the President of the Polish People’s Party in Novemer 2012. He was born on the 15th of March in 1960 and turns 53 in March 2013. He is married to Halina Piechocinska, has three children (Anna, Martha, Peter) and plays football. The former Minister of Economics Waldemar Pawlak served from 2007 to 2012 and had also been the President of the Polish People’s Party (Wikipedia f).

Review of bilateral relations

Historical relations

Poland is located in Central Europe and borders Germany in the east. Today the Polish - German border is 467 km long. However there have been several border wars until this border was finally settled. Poland’s history is marked by invasions and suppressions caused by its neighbors Germany and Russia. A brief look at their more recent history gives an insight into Poland’s struggle.

In the beginning of the 20th century parts of Poland were suppressed by Russia and then conquered by Germany in 1916. At the end of WWI Poland regained independence for a short period due to Germany’s defeat. In 1939 Nazi Germany, who formed a secret agreement with the Soviet Union to divide Poland between them, invaded Poland again from the west. Only a little later the Soviet Union also invaded Poland from the east. At the end of WWII Germany was defeated and some German territories were assigned to Poland. However, the Polish communist government was then controlled by Stalin who was the dictator of the Soviet Union. From 1945 until 1969 only East Germany had good relations to communist Poland probably due to the government’s similar political beliefs. In 1970 to 1989 Willy Brandt made efforts to improve relations between West Germany and the East through his famous “Ostpolitik” which included the acknowledgement of the Oder-Neiße line and his bid for apology. In 1989 Poland experienced the fall of communism and changed towards a parliamentary democracy. Since then the relations between Germany and Poland have steadily improved (Wikipedia, Germany-Poland relations and Lambert 2012)

Political relations

Due to the fall of communism in Poland in 1989 the political relations between Germany and Poland have significantly improved. In March 1999 the Republic of Poland became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which was already signed in 1949. The treaty serves as an alliance. If one member was attacked, all members would ensure assistance. Before, Poland and East Germany were part of the Warsaw Pact which was a communist countermeasure to the NATO in the cold war. West Germany entered the NATO in 1955 and in October 1990 after the reunion of Germany the remaining parts of East Germany joined the NATO as well (Wikipedia d).

Nowadays Germany and Poland are interconnected through their shared beliefs and are also both members in the European Union (EU). The political stability and their common beliefs provide a solid basis for relations (Federal Foreign Office Germany 2012). According to Lambert (2012) “Poland is the most pro-European country outside the eurozone.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Poland states that “Polish-German relations are characterised by considerable intensity. Regular political dialogue is maintained at all levels [...] focusing on important European, international, bilateral and security issues.”

The current Polish government of Prime Minister Tusk makes efforts to strengthen German-Polish relations. Cooperation in 2011 was close and trustful. The Federal Foreign Office Germany (2012) states that “An important element of bilateral relations in 2011 was the celebration of the 20th anniversary German-Polish Treaty of 17 June 1991 on Good Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation.” The frequent high-level visits are another proof of the importance of these bilateral relations. Köhler, Gauck, Westerwelle and Merkel chose Poland for their first official trip (Bowen, K. 2006 and Federal Foreign Office Germany 2012).

Economical relations

Germany’s and Poland’s trade relations reach a long way back. Already in 1929, Germany held a share of 27,3% of Polish imports and 31,2% of Polish exports. In 1938 Germany was still Poland’s first trading partner in terms of imports and its second trading partner in terms of revenue. From 1950 to the fall of communism in 1989 the Soviet Union was Poland’s most important trading partner which probably had political reasons.

In 1985 Poland had a GDP of $71billion which increased to $82,21billion in 1989, but still was only 11% of Germany’s GDP ($708,88billion) (Central Statistical Office 2012).

After the fall of communism in 1989, Poland’s economy was about to be restructured enormously. First the economy experienced a small downturn in 1990 to a GDP of $64,55billion. However, Poland focused on liberalization and privatization policies in the last two decades and successfully transformed from a centrally planned economy to a primarily capitalistic market economy (EconomyWatch Content, 2010b).

Besides, Poland reoriented its trade towards the EU. By 1996 the share of EU members valued 70% of Poland’s trade (EconomyWatch Content, 2010e).

From 1990 to 1998 the GDP constantly increased to $172,90billion, had a little downturn in 1999, but then steadily grew again until 2008. The GDP in 2008 was $529,4billion in Poland and $3.6237billion in Germany.

Cultural and educational relations

In July 1997 Germany and Poland signed a bilateral cultural agreement which came into force in January 1999. The cultural exchange takes place on several levels. At institutional level the countries are connected by cultural intermediaries like the Goethe Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German-Polish Youth Office (DPJW). Additionally, cultural societies provide information and organize programmes and language courses. Besides, there are many partnerships between towns, regions and districts. Schools, universities and scientific societies also form affiliate programs. The educational relations also enable encounters between German and Polish classes and promote learning German in Polish schools. In some Polish schools students can also obtain the German university entrance qualification (Abitur) (Federal Foreign Office Germany 2012).

Analysis of the current situation

Poland’s economy

Poland has a stable economy. After the financial crisis in 2008 many EU countries struggled and experienced recession. However, Poland’s real GDP increased steadily in the last decade and had a growth rate of 4,3% in 2011 (PAIZ).

Therefore Poland is the only European country which did not experience a recession during the financial crisis and still registered a positive growth in 2009 (EconomyWatch Content 2010d). “According to the Central Statistical Office of Poland, In 2010 the Polish economic growth rate was 3.9%, which was one of the best results in Europe” (Wikipedia a).


Excerpt out of 23 pages


German-Polish Relations. Analysis of the Past, Current and Future Trade Relations
Berlin School of Economics and Law
International Economics
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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international trade, macroeconomics, trade relations, poland, foreign trade, economic affairs, political relations, euopean union
Quote paper
Eva Schruff (Author), 2013, German-Polish Relations. Analysis of the Past, Current and Future Trade Relations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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