Saturday

23rd Feb 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.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us