Wednesday

21st Feb 2024

Poland 'satisfied' with UK demands in EU referendum talks

British PM David Cameron, on Friday (5 January), appeared to win Polish approval for his new EU deal in return for extra Nato security.

“We have really achieved a lot. We are satisfied,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, said after meeting the British leader.

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The visit was Cameron’s second time in Warsaw in a month, as he seeks to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership terms behore holding an In/Out referendum.

Polish workers would be the largest group affected by the UK plan to curb in-work benefits for EU workers for up to four years.

But Kaczynski said he secured “full protection” of social rights for Poles already living in Britain, including most child benefit rights.

The PiS chief is considered to be the real decision-maker in Poland.

Cameron also met his counterpart, Polish PM Beata Szydlo.

He said at their press conference that the UK will help to “secure” Poland via Nato.

“We want to make sure that our two countries’ cooperation is as close as possible. We want to see a full strategic partnership in the EU and in Nato … to secure Nato’s eastern flank,” Cameron said.

Poland is hosting a Nato summit in July and has called for permanent Nato bases on its territory.

Szydlo said it’s important for Poland that Britain stays in the EU.

She said there are still issues “to be ironed out,” on Britain’s “emergency brake” on migrant benefits.

Ironing

That “ironing out” went on in Brussels on Friday, as national negotiators and EU ambassadors discussed proposals, drafted by EU Council president Donald Tusk, on how to accommodate Britain’s demands.

The day-long talks "clarified” technical details and wording, an EU source said.

The source said the meeting was constructive, but no member state is “fully satisfied” and there are “difficult negotiations ahead,” putting in doubt a February agreement.

The negotiators next meeting is on 11 February, but Tusk's team is to stay in contact with all sides.

Cameron later on Friday flew to Copenhagen to meet Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

The British PM won the Nordic country’s firm backing for his EU demands, with Rasmussen saying the welfare brake is “understandable and acceptable”.

Cameron hopes to conclude a deal with EU leaders at the summit on 18 and 19 February, with a view to holding the EU referendum in June.

Schulz factor

European Parliament president Martin Schulz, also on Friday, sounded less friendly than Rasmussen, however.

He warned, at an event in London, that MEPs might adopt amendments to the British welfare proposals.

The German centre-left politician also questioned their fairness and said the final deal would be subject to months of debate.

A survey for The Times, a British daily, out on Friday, indicated that Cameron might have more trouble convincing British voters than EU leaders.

The poll said 45 percent of Britons would vote to leave the EU, compared to 36 percent who want to stay.

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