Poland threatens to block EU Treaty negotiations

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski dismissed EU leaders’ hopes of finding a swift solution to the institutional impasse, saying that new treaty negotiations could take up to a year. European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering warned that a Polish veto would ‘put Europe into a crisis’.

Following talks with Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer on 11 June in Warsaw, Kaczynski spelled out a warning, suggesting that he might veto a mandate for an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

The Polish prime minister said: “I hope that we will not be placed in a situation in which we are obliged to not support the mandate, which would mean that there would not be a mandate.”

The remarks come only a week ahead of a decisive European Summit on 21-22 June, which is set to agree on a road map for institutional reform. The German Presidency seeks to find consent on a timeline and key elements of a new treaty, aimed to solve the EU’s institutional crisis following the rejection of the EU Constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to push for a mandate to convene an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which should take place before the end of 2007 under Portuguese Presidency, where a text is expected to be agreed.

Poland, however, may put this timeline at risk. Kaczynski told reporters that he expected the discussions on a new EU Treaty to take “around one year”. He added: “We don’t subscribe to the idea of trying to resolve important issues about Europe’s future in a few days.”

Poland wants to reopen negotiations concerning the voting system. It seeks to introduce a so-called square-root system, which would give smaller countries more votes in proportion to their population. However, most EU member states want to adopt the double-majority voting system proposed by the draft Constitution, which foresees a distribution of votes that better reflects country’s populations.

European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering told reporters on 11 June, that he thought Poland’s veto threat was “very regrettable, not just in terms of the possible outcome, but in terms of the threat itself”.

Pöttering said: “Poland will put Europe into a crisis with this veto. No small or middle-sized country should impose its will on another country.” He added: “Poland would harm itself the most if it uses this veto.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to discuss his ideas for a new “simplified Treaty” when he meets his Polish counterpart on a visit to Warsaw on 14 June.

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