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19th Sep 2020

Poland warns against eurozone 'elite'

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has warned that Europe's efforts to step up economic co-ordination in the wake of Greece's debt crisis should not be limited to the collection of states that share the euro currency.

Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday (9 June) after the Polish cabinet held meetings with senior EU officials as part of preparations for its EU presidency in the second half of next year, Mr Tusk said non-eurozone states must be treated in an equal manner.

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"As a country that is aspiring to join the eurozone, we would like the eurozone to be a leader but not an exclusive elite within the European Union," he told journalists.

The statement is an indication of where Poland stands regarding a French call for greater cohesion of eurozone decision making, driven by regular meetings of the group's leaders and potentially aided by a new secretariat based in Brussels. Poland fears this could lead to a two-speed Europe.

"It's very important that the European Commission stands up for equal standards for all EU member states," Mr Tusk said. "We want a united Europe that can take actions in solidarity for the benefit of the EU as a whole."

With the topic set to be discussed at a European Summit in Brussels next week, Germany has also proven to be lukewarm regarding the French proposal, fearing that increased economic decision making by euro area leaders could negatively impact on the European Central Bank's independence.

Monthly meetings of the eurozone's finance ministers are chaired by Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, but widening eurozone difficulties earlier this year prompted two meetings of its leaders, both chaired by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

Mr Van Rompuy is seen as the most likely candidate to chair the regular eurozone leaders' meetings, were the French proposal given the go-ahead. The Belgian politician is currently leading a 'taskforce' of EU finance officials that will come forward with proposals on greater European economic co-ordination this October.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has also previously voiced his opposition to a eurozone "economic government" aided by a secretariat, saying the creation of new institutions would merely add greater confusion to the current situation.

"The general framework should be the same for the eurozone as for the non-eurozone countries. We can't have a split in the EU," he said on Wednesday, speaking alongside Mr Tusk.

Last month, the commission came forward with its own ideas paper on how the bloc should toughen its budgetary rules and reduce differences in competitiveness between member states.

The proposals included a call for the commission and member states to vet each others' budgets before they are passed onto national parliaments for approval.

On Monday, Mr Van Rompuy said his taskforce meeting of EU finance ministers had reached agreement on the proposal, only for the UK to issue a strong rejection of the idea the following day.

London insists that such a move should only apply to those states using the euro currency.

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