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Poland, in pre-summit talks, demands ‘reform’ agenda

Poland’s rightwing government, in talks with European Union chief Donald Tusk, said Tuesday the EU’s upcoming summit should plot a path to post-Brexit “reform"

Published: Updated:

Poland’s rightwing government, in talks with European Union chief Donald Tusk, said Tuesday the EU’s upcoming summit should plot a path to post-Brexit “reform.”

In a brief meeting with Tusk, a fellow Pole who is president of the European Council, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said Friday’s summit in Bratislava should provide “the first impetus on the path to change.”

“The EU has to change, we have to reform it,” said Szydlo, whose remarks were conveyed to the press by her spokesman, Rafal Bochenek.

Poland’s government, a fierce critic of EU federalism, has been trying to rally other eastern European countries behind an agenda in favour of national sovereignty.

The meeting lasted less than one hour, and the body language at their encounter seemed frosty, according to an AFP journalist who attended the photocall.

The Bratislava meeting is designed to sketch ideas for the EU after Britain’s avowed exit from the bloc following its referendum on June 23. Britain, for the first time in its 43-year membership of the EU, will not be taking part in a full summit.

Tusk is touring EU capitals to sound out opinions ahead of the meeting, which will have informal status and not make any decisions.

So far, thinking has coalesced around whether centralised powers in the EU should be either strengthened or weakened as a result of Brexit.Britain, along with Poland, has been leading the fight against centralised authority.
Populists in both countries, and elsewhere in eastern Europe, have attacked the EU’s powerful executive Commission as a federalist assault on sovereignty.

In contrast, EU supporters say Europe’s flaws have happened because stronger centralised institutions and democracy have been thwarted by national interests.

Bochenek said in Warsaw’s view, the Brexit vote reflected a sense of public alienation with Brussels.

“European civil servants absolutely must not block these reforms. Passiveness, the failure to listen closely to the voices of the people in member states, was a chief cause of Brexit,” he said. Poland’s view was also shared by the three fellow members of the Visegrad Group -- Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia -- he added.Poland’s rightwing government, in talks with European Union chief Donald Tusk, said Tuesday the EU’s upcoming summit should plot a path to post-Brexit “reform.”

In a brief meeting with Tusk, a fellow Pole who is president of the European Council, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said Friday’s summit in Bratislava should provide “the first impetus on the path to change.”

“The EU has to change, we have to reform it,” said Szydlo, whose remarks were conveyed to the press by her spokesman, Rafal Bochenek.

Poland’s government, a fierce critic of EU federalism, has been trying to rally other eastern European countries behind an agenda in favour of national sovereignty.

The meeting lasted less than one hour, and the body language at their encounter seemed frosty, according to an AFP journalist who attended the photocall.

The Bratislava meeting is designed to sketch ideas for the EU after Britain’s avowed exit from the bloc following its referendum on June 23. Britain, for the first time in its 43-year membership of the EU, will not be taking part in a full summit.

Tusk is touring EU capitals to sound out opinions ahead of the meeting, which will have informal status and not make any decisions.

So far, thinking has coalesced around whether centralised powers in the EU should be either strengthened or weakened as a result of Brexit.Britain, along with Poland, has been leading the fight against centralised authority.
Populists in both countries, and elsewhere in eastern Europe, have attacked the EU’s powerful executive Commission as a federalist assault on sovereignty.

In contrast, EU supporters say Europe’s flaws have happened because stronger centralised institutions and democracy have been thwarted by national interests.

Bochenek said in Warsaw’s view, the Brexit vote reflected a sense of public alienation with Brussels.

“European civil servants absolutely must not block these reforms. Passiveness, the failure to listen closely to the voices of the people in member states, was a chief cause of Brexit,” he said. Poland’s view was also shared by the three fellow members of the Visegrad Group -- Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia -- he added.