Thursday

18th Apr 2019

Poland: UK no longer a leading EU country

  • Sikorski: 'Great Britain [has become] ... a country of special concern' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Britain has lost its place in the club of leading EU nations with France and Germany over its plan to hold a referendum on EU membership, the Polish foreign minister has said.

"The Prime Minister [the UK's David Cameron] has shifted his country's position in the EU hierarchy. From a country which was a natural member of the triumvirate capable of ruling the EU, Great Britain has moved to the category of a country of special concern, which should be treated with care in case it does something unwise, harms itself and leaves the Union. It means the group which holds power in the Union will have a different shape," Radek Sikorski told Poland's Tok FM radio station on Thursday (24 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He said Poland could take Britain's place over the next decade.

"We would have to continue reforms and join the eurozone, then we could be the ones in the group of three, or five, countries which have the biggest say in the EU," he added.

Sikorski's remarks are Poland's first reaction to Cameron's plan to hold an in/out referendum on the EU by the end of 2017.

The Polish minister - an Anglophile, who studied at Oxford University - said Poles "like, respect" the UK and share its free market outlook.

He noted the referendum will not take place if Cameron loses the next election.

He also said Cameron's two conditions for holding the vote - renegotiating the EU treaties and repatriating some EU powers to the UK - "seem unlikely to happen."

But he added that - referendum or no referendum - the British leader has shown he wants no part in further EU integration.

"Cameron said very clearly: 'We're not interested in a political union, we want to take care of our own interests and retreat to our island.' But the rest of the continent does want political union because it's indispensible to save the euro and to protect our place on the world arena," Sikorski said.

"Great Britain can retreat to its island. But it's in our [Poland's] interest to permanently safeguard our membership in the Latin civilisation, so we need tighter ties with the rest of Europe, not looser ones," he added.

Sikorski was more critical of Cameron than muted statements by Germany or Italy in the past few days.

But the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was the most provocative.

"If the UK decides to leave the EU, we will roll out the red carpet to businessmen [who want to leave the UK]," he said on Wednesday.

Cameron has popular backing in the UK despite his detractors.

A poll published in British daily The Times on Thursday said 40 percent of people would vote to get out of the EU, while 37 percent would vote to stay in.

The referendum plan is also causing ripples in other EU countries.

A survey published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on Friday said 52 percent of Danes want to stay in the EU, but 47 percent want Denmark to renegotiate EU relations.

Monti attacks 'short-termism' in EU politics

Italian Prime Minister Monti has criticised fellow EU leaders for the way they dealt with the euro crisis and said the UK is right to pose fundamental questions.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us