The twenty years that the Weimar Triangle has been in existence have seen more than their share of disappointments. Warsaw, Paris and Berlin have failed to forge a lasting alliance that could become the motor of an enlarged Europe. This isn’t to say they won’t pull it off in the future.

As so eloquently shown by the example of France and Germany over the past 50 years, cooperation – once put in place and anchored – endures and resists the winds of political changes. Under this hypothesis, a revival of the triangle would be needed more than ever.

The failures of the past can be laid partly at the door of the excessive political ambitions of Poland and partly blamed on the short-term view and lack of interest of the German and French leaders, who have long considered us country cousins.

The triangle was never more than an informal meeting

Berlin and Paris haven’t forgotten, either, that in 2003 they tried in vain to persuade Warsaw to back off from supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The corners of the triangle came apart when western Europe and Russia agreed [in 2005] to build the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which will bypass Poland. And the triangle exerted no unifying force during the conflict between Georgia and Russia [in 2008], when the Polish and French presidents vied to be the first to get to Tbilisi.

The triangle was never more than an informal meeting, a figure of speech that depended on the goodwill of politicians to be converted into deeds. The goodwill obviously faded in 2006, when Lech Kaczynski, offended by a caricature published by a German newspaper, simply cancelled the Weimar summit.

By bringing together Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy in Warsaw, Polish President Bronisław Komorowski showed that the platform for German-Polish-French discussion must become more important, especially in light of the current difficulties in the EU, where a split is feared between the countries in the eurozone and those outside it.

Not just an annual get-together in a delightful palace

The three leaders have expressed their wish that the meetings of the triangle should from now on be regular events. Organising a joint meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is also planned. The triangle, this suggests, can be brought back to life.

But this cooperation within the triangle should certainly not be reduced to an annual get-together in a delightful palace, restricted to a circle of the most important Polish, German and French politicians. The triangle should rather reach out to the entire political class of the three countries and to cooperation between scientists, to local elected politicians, and to youth exchanges.

Dare to imagine a situation where, while politicians from the three countries are negotiating the terms of a common strategy for the EU energy policy, directors of research institutes and town mayors are signing trilateral cooperation agreements. Or another scenario: the EU brings in sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko even as Polish, German and French universities open their doors to students from Belarus.