Tuesday

13th Nov 2018

Poland to join UK in EU rights charter opt-out

  • EU foreign ministers - contemplating difficult treaty talks? (Photo: Portuguese EU presidency)

Poland will join Britain in opting out from the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, Polish foreign minister Ana Fotyga announced after arriving for talks in Portugal on the EU's new Reform Treaty.

"We want to join the British protocol, protocol 7," Ms Fotyga told reporters on Friday (7 September), referring to a protocol in the proposed EU treaty which secures an exemption for the UK from the citizens rights charter.

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

Ms Fotyga made the announcement while strolling through the picturesque Portuguese town of Viana do Castelo where EU foreign ministers are holding a first political discussion on the detailed draft version of the new treaty prepared by the Portuguese EU presidency.

Warsaw has so far been ambiguous on whether it would like to be exempted from the EU rights charter, which is referred to in the reform treaty blueprint as legally binding.

Poland's embattled conservative government dislikes the charter for its supposed liberalism on moral issues, but at the same time it has been under pressure from trade unions - who support the charter's social rights catalogue - to sign up to the charter.

Now that the Poles have decided to go for the opt-out, they are set to confirm in the eyes of other delegations their reputation as prime member of the awkward squad.

A bitter European leaders summit on the treaty in June saw a head-to-head clash between Warsaw and Berlin centred around Poland's voting weight in the EU - an issue which still has not been resolved, it emerged ahead of the Portugal meeting.

Fresh differences

Fresh differences of interpretation have surfaced over the so-called Ioannina mechanism, whereby Warsaw or any member state can delay an EU decision on new legislation if its vital interests are at stake.

Poland appears to believe that it can invoke the mechanism "repeatedly", until EU consensus on the new legislation is reached, whereas other member states see it as a one-off instrument, Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn told reporters.

Ms Fotyga indicated "our expertise says that [the mechanism] may be used in current form until we reach consensus," adding "the main purpose [of the mechanism] is the consensual way of taking decisions."

Poland also wants to see the Ioannina mechanism explicitly mentioned in the Reform Treaty text - whereas the majority of EU countries only want to have the blocking clause mentioned in a separate declaration which has a lesser legal status.

Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen rejected the Polish demand, telling EUobserver that "with regard to Ioaninna we have made very clear that there will be no reference to this in the treaty. We agreed this in Brussels [at the June summit] so this remains our line."

Arguing along the same lines, France's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said "I hope that these problems will be solved. I hope there will not be a reopening of important questions - that would not be useful. Things were already said and done in Brussels."

Polish elections?

Meanwhile, the domestic political situation in Poland has raised speculation that there will be further treaty complications. Poland's parliament was expected on Friday to vote on its dissolution, which would trigger early elections.

An election date mentioned by current prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is October 21 - just days after an EU leaders meeting on 18-19 October where the Portuguese presidency wants to have the treaty wrapped up.

Asked whether the possible elections in her country would lead to a delay of the EU treaty summit, Ms Fotyga said "there is no reason to think that."

She indicated that government and opposition parties are "pretty united about the mandate" for the treaty talks.

Some member states remain confident about the state of the treaty talks, however.

"In a union of 27 members elections belong to everyday life. I am not counting with problems. The [treaty] mandate that we agreed [in June] is - thank God - too precise for that," Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik remarked.

Exclusive

EU commission redacted too much in 'WiFi4EU' papers

Secretariat-general of the European Commission decides that information redacted by directorate-general Communications Networks, Content and Technology should have been made public.

Mogherini's tech experts talk more freely in secret

The EU's foreign service says there are no "records" of the Global Tech Panel meetings, but acknowledged foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini writes summary letters. Five MEPs worried about killer robots suggest the panel's composition is skewed.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us