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European Commission trying to 'deprive Poland of its position': Polish FM

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 09.08.2017 12:50
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans is trying to “deprive Poland of its position” in the EU, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has said.
Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: Sebastian Indra/MSZ.Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: Sebastian Indra/MSZ.

Waszczykowski told the British public broadcaster that European Commission decisions are a “smoke screen” covering up energy security and post-Brexit common market problems as well as “protectionist” decisions.

“We prefer to discuss... these issues but not directly [with] Mr Timmermans,” Waszczykowski told the BBC’s HARDtalk programme.

He added that concerns voiced by the European Commission about Poland were an “excuse … to deprive Poland of our position and to weaken our negotiation position maybe, for instance, [in talks on] the future budget of the European Union”.

Timmermans has led the charge in a number of conflicts between Warsaw and Brussels.

Brussels has accused Poland of breaking EU laws, including habitat and birds directives, by logging in the protected primaeval Białowieża forest.

The commission has also launched a rule-of-law case against Poland, following sweeping changes to the Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw shortly after the conservative Law and Justice party won elections in late 2015.

Tensions were exacerbated by two recent government-backed bills to overhaul the Supreme Court and a powerful judges’ ethics council, which were vetoed by the president, and a third bill, which was signed into law, that changes the way judges are elected to district and appeals courts.

Critics have accused the government of trying to stack the courts with its own candidates.

Poland has also refused to take part in a EU plan to resettle African and Middle Eastern migrants from camps in Italy and Greece, arguing that the programme did not solve the problem at its origin, and was a threat to security.

Waszczykowski told the BBC that migrants did not want to be resettled "by force" to countries like Poland.

Most recently, Brussels has said that Poland’s reintroduction of lower retirement ages is gender discrimination and breaks the European Union’s gender equality laws.

Poland in 2016 decided that as of 1 October this year, the retirement age would be reduced to 60 for women and 65 for men, down from the 67 retirement age introduced by the previous government in 2012.

It called a seven-year jump in the retirement age for women a "social injustice", although it would have been implemented gradually over nearly 30 years.

Meanwhile, Brussels has objected to recent tougher US sanctions against Moscow, which could affect EU companies invested in Russian energy projects, including Nord Stream II, which would supply gas to Germany, circumventing Poland and other countries in the region.

Brussels has also pushed for laws to ensure that so-called posted workers – European Union employees, such as truck drivers, whose job has them work in a different European member state – are paid the minimum wage of the host country.

Warsaw has said that this would hit Polish businesses and make them less competitive in Europe. (vb/pk)

Source: PAP

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