Saturday

24th Jul 2021

Polish MPs boycott EU

On his first day as a fledgling observer in the European Parliament, Andrzej Lepper, leader of Poland's second-most popular party, the radical Peasant Self-Defence Party (Samoobrona), warned that he could pull Poland out of the EU if the terms for membership remain as they are today.

In a similar vein other Polish eurosceptic groups refused the observer invitation to the European Parliament, boycotting the EU's institutions.

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Four of the 54 seats Poland has in the European Parliament remain empty this week as some of the parties which oppose the country's EU entry stayed away from the EU institutions after having been invited to participate as officially appointed observers in Brussels and Strasbourg.

"We believe our presence is pointless as we were chosen for the Polish [parliament] and not the EU parliament", Marek Kotinowski of the populist League of Polish Families (LPR) said.

With public events, postcards, leaflets, and television spots, the LPR launched its anti-EU campaign this week, encouraging Poles to vote No in the upcoming referendum, scheduled for 7 and 8 June. The LPR's representatives do not intend to enter the European Parliament in order to fill their three seats.

The Polish National-Catholic Movement (RKN) has taken a similar position stating that the European Parliament's initiative is a form of "manipulation ahead of the accession referendum", said its chairman, Antoni Macierewicz.

Mr Lepper appeared in the European Parliament this week to say that if his party wins the next elections, then it would apply to re-negotiate the terms of Poland's membership in the EU.

The former deputy speaker of the lower house of Poland's parliament, the Sejm, famous for blocking roads and disturbing the peace at the plenary sessions in Warsaw, added that if the conditions Poland obtained do not change, the new government created by his party, or with its participation, will force its way out of the EU.

Mr Lepper's words were however, refuted by other Polish delegates. "His declaration is characteristic of his political rhetoric," said the head of Poland's delegation to the European Convention, the country's former Prime Minister, Józef Oleksy.

Only Poland, along with Lithuania, sent more MPs to the socialists than the conservatives - the two biggest parties in the European Parliament.

Twenty-seven parliamentarians from the ruling leftwing SLD-UP coalition joined the PES group while 17 observers from the centre-right opposition parties went to the PPE-EP.

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