Poland said today (24 June) that Britain’s vote to leave the EU meant it was time for a “new European treaty” to overhaul the federalist model of closer European political integration.
Right-wing leader Jarosław Kaczyński urged a “positive response” to Britain’s choice to quit by reforming the EU in order to forestall other “events like Brexit, and a general crisis in the future”.
“The conclusion is obvious; we need a new European treaty,” the Eurosceptic leader told reporters in Warsaw.
A staunch opponent of European federalism, Kaczynski insisted that “we must find a model for Europe that reflects Europe as it really is.
“It’s still a Europe of nations, of nation states,” he said, while ruling out any talk of a referendum on Poland’s EU membership.
Poles are overwhelmingly pro-EU, with a February survey showing that 81% favoured continued membership, known to the public as a source of economic growth thanks to generous subsidies from Brussels.
Although Kaczyński holds no cabinet post, as leader of the governing populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, he is widely regarded as the real powerbroker in the government that swept to power on an anti-migrant and populist spending platform in October elections.
PiS Prime Minister Beata Szydło said today her government would “focus on the fate” of an estimated 800,000 Polish citizens living and working in Britain.
She vowed to “try to guarantee that Polish citizens living in Britain keep the rights they enjoy now.”
Outgoing Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron pushed through reforms to limit child benefits for migrants, a hot-button issue in the referendum. The deal however won’t enter into effect, as the UK is set to leave the Union.
While talks on a compromise to keep the UK in the EU continue, it has emerged that the Polish government will not support any solution reducing the privileges of Poles who already live and work in UK. EurActiv Poland reports.
Seeking a better life, Poles were the largest group of migrants to head to Britain after the EU’s 2004 eastern expansion.
Unlike other western EU members who kept up employment restrictions, Britain fully opened its labour market to EU newcomers from the east.
Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski suggested earlier today that after negotiating a new relationship between the EU and Britain, “perhaps the EU, the eurocrats, and European politicians will reflect on how to develop Europe in order to avoid further exits”.
A British exit from the European Union could trigger similar moves by other member states in Eastern Europe, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in a German newspaper interview published yesterday (19 June).