UK should not be pushed to leave EU, says Polish foreign minister | News | DW | 27.06.2016
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UK should not be pushed to leave EU, says Polish foreign minister

The UK should not be chased out of the EU, Poland's foreign minister has said. Warsaw is calling for a new EU framework, after itself being in the EU's bad books for several months.

"Regardless which of the various visions for the EU wins out, Europe is condemned to have to revise its treaties," Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Monday, as foreign ministers met in Warsaw to discuss the aftermath of June 23rd's Brexit vote.

Waszczykowski's comments follow calls on the day after the UK's Brexit vote on June 23 from key EU figures for the UK to set in motion the formal procedures for leaving the union as soon as possible, known as Article 50.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has been less stringent than some EU leaders in her stance on the timing and terms of the UK's departure, but London faces a severe crisis of leadership and a possible constitutional crisis as it becomes clear a Brexit opens various legal and political possibilities, few of which were raised before the vote.

Warsaw offers London's Euroskeptics a bone

Poland said on Friday the EU needed a new treaty to increase the role of sovereign nations to preserve its unity following the British referendum.

"We need longer reflection," Waszczykowski told Polish state television TVP. "This cannot be hasty action, this cannot consist of forcing Britain out and as fast as possible," adding that EU officials were also partly responsible for Britain's vote to quit the EU.

The European Commission has accused Warsaw of undermining the independence of its judiciary and instigated an unprecendented investigation into an EU member state in January. The constitutional crisis remains unresolved, and Warsaw's euroskeptic government is likely feeling less pressure from Brussels as London sits center stage.

PiS and the Conservative Party in the UK are members of the same euroskeptic grouping in the European Parliament. Since Poland's EU accession in 2004, London and Warsaw have been close allies, often espousing a more federalist language than Berlin or Paris.

"The blame lies on both sides," Waszczykowski said. "For sure, the British people [...] have their arguments to exit the EU. But also on the side of the EU, in Brussels, one has to ask why it was not possible to keep such an important state in the EU."

The key challenge for Polish diplomacy, the minister said, is now convincing EU members states that "the only solution in this difficult moment is maintaining the EU's unity and not breaking it up."

Vote Leave campaign leader, Boris Johnson

Vote Leave campaign leader, Boris Johnson

"We need new ideas, evaluations as to how it came to this that the fifth largest economy in the world, a nuclear state, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has left the EU after 40 years, and who is responsible for it," Waszczykowski said.

"Of course one can blame British politicians, but it is also necessary to blame European politicians in Brussels, who were not able to set out an attractive European offer for such a large and important world state," he said.

A new EU needed?

Asked if the other EU members states shared the Polish government's view that a new EU treaty is needed, Waszczykowski said, "I think that is not ruled out. That's because if - on the one hand - it only came to a divorce, to taking the UK out of the EU, well that would also then necessitate winding up the treaty."

Waszczykowski - asked about the German and French propositions that foresee a deepening of some European integration parameters - said the propositions needed updating as they had, he recalled, been presented before the vote.

"This is bad news for Europe, for Poland. (...) This is a great dilemma for the eurocrats, we all want to keep the EU, the question is in what shape," Waszczykowski told private broadcaster TV Republika.

"We will be trying to use this situation to make the European politicians aware why this happened. And it happened because this concept, which was created some time ago, is no longer popular in Europe," he added.

Brexit as a way of reopening old scores

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, also on Monday blamed European Council President and former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk for Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

"A particularly dark role was played by Donald Tusk, who conducted negotiations with the British and in fact contributed to them getting nothing," Kaczynski said of his former political rival, speaking to local media.

"Hence, he is directly responsible for Brexit and should simply disappear from European politics. But this concerns the whole of European Commission in its present composition."

"If there is a deeper reflection, a pause in the pushing of this French-German model, then the union will survive. But if the eurozone is forced, and the eurozone creates some new institutions, its own budget and treats the whole European Union as a facade, then it may all end in a catastrophe," Polish minister, Henryk Kowalczyk, is responsible for new legislation in the government, said on Monday.

jbh/kl (Reuters, AP)

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