Monday

9th Dec 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 20 years of archives. 30-day 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.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us