The European Parliament (EP) elections in May will show that EU officials in Brussels and French president Emmanuel Macron are out of touch with average Europeans, according to Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki in French newspaper Le Figaro on Monday (11 February).
Morawiecki also defended Poland's judicial purge and warned of the dangers of Russian "imperialism".
"The upcoming elections to the European Parliament will show that Europe is completely different to how people see it in Brussels," he said.
"There will emerge, almost certainly, completely new forces which Brussels bureaucrats like to denigrate by calling them 'populist movements'. But for me, they're born out of democracy and they ought to be listened to," Morawiecki added.
He was referring to antipathy toward the EU's economic and political elite, as in the 'yellow vest' movement in France or in Italy's new government, which, like Poland, is boosting money on welfare.
"In my opinion, the neoliberal model ought to be questioned," he said, referring to the kind of unbridled capitalism which exacerbates the gulf between rich and poor.
He also mentioned anti-migrant hostility.
"All European opinion polls say the top issue for European societies are migration and terrorism ... We have to listen to people's concerns," Morawiecki said.
"Opening wide the gates of Europe is not the answer," he noted, referring to EU asylum policy.
The kind of ever-closer integration espoused by EU officials and by France's Macron also lacked popular support, the Polish prime minister said.
"I'm for a Europe of nation states, while Mr Macron wants a United States of Europe. This project ... won't get anywhere because people won't accept it," Morawiecki said.
"EU values, which we all share, exist, but there is no such thing as a universal European identity," he said.
He spoke to the French newspaper amid an ongoing clash between Brussels and Warsaw on rule of law and migrants.
The EU has threatened sanctions against Poland after its government began firing judges and replacing them with political allies.
It has also threatened to fine Poland over its boycott of EU migrant-sharing quotas.
Morawiecki's talk of "new forces" comes amid talks between Poland and Italy on the formation of a new European parliament group after the May vote.
New EP group?
The Italian government also wants to pull in far-right MEPs from Denmark, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, and further afield.
But even if the new EP group ends up being smaller than Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini might wish for, Morawiecki predicted that like-minded MEPs from other groups would end up voting together in a force to be reckoned with.
The Czech Republic was with the liberals, Hungary was in the centre-right EPP group, and Slovakia was in the centre-left S&D one, but "we understand each other very well", Morawiecki said.
He defended Poland's judicial purge on grounds that the judges being fired were stooges of Poland's former communist regime.
Morawiecki compared the purge to what France did with Nazi collaborators from the World War Two Vichy-regime and what Germany did with judges from the former East Germany.
He also complained that France and Germany did not understand the threat that Russia posed because they were "never occupied and plundered by the [Soviet Union's] Red Army".
"Our region lives in the shadow of Moscow, which never stopped being aggressive," he said.
"Western Europe was always shielded from Russia by central Europe ... [so] they see Russia as an economic and trade partner," he added, bemoaning Germany's decision to build a new gas pipeline with Russia, called Nord Stream 2.
Morawiecki's talk of a "Europe of nation states" was mild compared to the eurosceptic rhetoric his government used at home, however.
The EU was an "imaginary community from which we don't gain much", the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, said at a rally in Lezajsk, a town in south-eastern Poland, last October.
Morawiecki told Le Figaro there was no question of a Polish EU exit "because we're one of the most pro-European countries on the continent - almost 87 percent [of Poles] support the EU".
His talk on how the EU and Macron were out of touch with average people masked the fact that his own government was increasingly out of touch with Polish voters, however.
Pro-EU opposition parties in Poland were on track to win the EP vote with 42 percent compared to 37.5 percent for Morawiecki's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, according to a January poll.
PiS haemorrhaged support in Polish cities in local elections last year.
A poll in November also showed that EU Council chief and former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk enjoyed 47.7 percent of Polish people's "trust", beating Duda (45.8 percent) and Morawiecki himself (42 percent).