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Polish powerbroker rejects ‘two-speed Europe’

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of Poland’s governing rightwing party, opposes any notion of the “multi-speed EU” favored by Germany and France. (AFP)
WARSAW: The powerful head of Poland’s governing rightwing party Monday ruled out moves toward a “two-speed Europe,” in remarks before a EU summit where the bloc will plot its post-Brexit future.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski has long insisted Poland wants to remain rooted in the European Union, but has rejected any notion of the “multi-speed EU” favored by powerhouse states Germany and France.
As central Europe’s largest economy, Poland is concerned that as one of nine of the EU’s current 28 members outside the eurozone, it could be left behind should countries in the currency bloc push ahead with integration.
“We cannot accept any kind of declarations about a two-speed Europe,” Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice (PiS) and widely regarded as the country’s de facto decision-maker, told the rightwing wSieci weekly.
“This would mean we would either be pushed out of the EU or degraded to a worse category member. We must oppose this with all our might,” he said.
EU leaders meet at the March 25 summit in Rome to mark the EU’s 60th birthday, a moment they hope to emphasize the bloc’s unity as Britain is expected to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, starting a two-year countdown to Britain’s departure.
“A two-speed Europe would mean that the money would be concentrated in the West, among other reasons because Germany will have to pay more to cover the debts of the euro area,” Kaczynski said.
“More money will also be directed toward innovation in the older countries of the Union, which means significant losses for us.”
Meanwhile, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said that freedom of movement could push the European Union toward a break-up if it remains unchecked.
He cited the example of Britain’s pending divorce from the bloc.
The Czech Republic has been a strong defender of the EU’s fundamental freedoms, including the right of citizens to live and work in other member states, since joining the bloc in 2004 with a number of other eastern European countries.
But speaking to newspaper Hospodarske Noviny, Zaoralek hinted that curbs on freedom of movement might be needed to bolster support for the EU.
He also rejected demands from Brussels that all 28 EU states must accept some of the more than 1 million migrants that have arrived from outside the bloc in recent years, many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.
“We are saying that we have to respect freedom of movement and other things, for which we would let ourselves be crucified, figuratively speaking, but the outcome may be that due to these principles the union may break up.”
Immigration, including the arrival of large numbers of people from the EU’s poorer east, was a major issue during the British referendum campaign which ended with a vote to “Brexit.”
WARSAW: The powerful head of Poland’s governing rightwing party Monday ruled out moves toward a “two-speed Europe,” in remarks before a EU summit where the bloc will plot its post-Brexit future.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski has long insisted Poland wants to remain rooted in the European Union, but has rejected any notion of the “multi-speed EU” favored by powerhouse states Germany and France.
As central Europe’s largest economy, Poland is concerned that as one of nine of the EU’s current 28 members outside the eurozone, it could be left behind should countries in the currency bloc push ahead with integration.
“We cannot accept any kind of declarations about a two-speed Europe,” Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice (PiS) and widely regarded as the country’s de facto decision-maker, told the rightwing wSieci weekly.
“This would mean we would either be pushed out of the EU or degraded to a worse category member. We must oppose this with all our might,” he said.
EU leaders meet at the March 25 summit in Rome to mark the EU’s 60th birthday, a moment they hope to emphasize the bloc’s unity as Britain is expected to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, starting a two-year countdown to Britain’s departure.
“A two-speed Europe would mean that the money would be concentrated in the West, among other reasons because Germany will have to pay more to cover the debts of the euro area,” Kaczynski said.
“More money will also be directed toward innovation in the older countries of the Union, which means significant losses for us.”
Meanwhile, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said that freedom of movement could push the European Union toward a break-up if it remains unchecked.
He cited the example of Britain’s pending divorce from the bloc.
The Czech Republic has been a strong defender of the EU’s fundamental freedoms, including the right of citizens to live and work in other member states, since joining the bloc in 2004 with a number of other eastern European countries.
But speaking to newspaper Hospodarske Noviny, Zaoralek hinted that curbs on freedom of movement might be needed to bolster support for the EU.
He also rejected demands from Brussels that all 28 EU states must accept some of the more than 1 million migrants that have arrived from outside the bloc in recent years, many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.
“We are saying that we have to respect freedom of movement and other things, for which we would let ourselves be crucified, figuratively speaking, but the outcome may be that due to these principles the union may break up.”
Immigration, including the arrival of large numbers of people from the EU’s poorer east, was a major issue during the British referendum campaign which ended with a vote to “Brexit.”

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