13th Nov 2018

Polish leader confronts Denmark over border controls

  • Tusk (2nd from l): 'There is no better advert, when it comes to Poland and to our [EU] presidency ... than these strawberries' (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

Polish leader Donald Tusk has criticised Denmark's new border checks in his maiden speech to the European Parliament under the Polish EU presidency.

"I am against any barriers to internal free movement under the pretext of dealing with migration problems. What Denmark is doing is a concern for anybody who thinks that free movement is going to be restricted even further," he told MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday (5 July).

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

"History shows, that whenever Europeans believed that the answer to their problems was a rise in nationalism, statism, protectionism - it always ended in catastrophe," he added at a later point in his speech.

Under the EU treaty, the European Commission is tasked with protecting EU laws while the rotating presidency is supposed to act as a neutral broker in negotiations between member states.

Tusk in Warsaw last Friday also came close to accusing French, German and Italian leaders of hypocrisy in their handling of Tunisian migrants and the Greek bailout, as "politicians who say they support the EU ... but at the same time take steps that weaken the union."

Denmark on Tuesday deployed 50 extra customs officers on its German and Swedish borders. Copenhagen says the move is to fight drug trafficking. But most commentators see it as a sop to the increasingly powerful, right-wing Danish People's Party.

For his part, Germany's Jorg-Uwe Hahn, a minister in the Hesse regional authority, said holidaymakers should boycott Denmark. "I can only suggest that people turn right around and holiday in Austria or Poland instead," he told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

Tusk's pro-EU message was applauded by MEPs from across the political spectrum. "I've always said that you should be in our political group," the Liberal group leader, Guy Verhoftstadt said (Tusk's Civic Platform party sits with the centre-right EPP group).

At a press conference following his speech in plenary, Tusk used a plate of Polish strawberries as a symbol of Poland's "fresh" approach to the union's pessimistic mood.

"There is no better advert, when it comes to Poland and to our [EU] presidency - that is about Poland's freshness and energy - than these strawberries," he said, according to Polish press agency Pap.

The plenary debate was also marked by an ugly exchange between the Polish right-wing opposition Law and Justice party and its left-wing SLD counterpart.

Law and Justice deputy Zbigniew Ziobro accused Tusk of curbing free speech by sacking pro-opposition journalists in state-owned media. SLD member Marek Siwiec recalled that Ziobro, in his previous role as interior minister, organised televised raids by armed Swat teams in an anti-corruption campaign which saw one woman commit suicide.

Cameras showed Tusk holding his face in his hands during the mud-slinging.

"These two or three interventions by Law and Justice eurodeputies are a problem for them, not for me, or for Poland," he later told press.

The original title, which spoke of Danish 'nationalism' was altered at 5.45pm Brussels time on 7 July after the Polish foreign ministry clarified that Tusk's mention of 'nationalism' did not refer directly to Denmark

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

Romania 'using EU data protection law to silence journalists'

An award-winning journalism outlet in Romania is being threatened with fines by the country's data protection authorities - for having disclosed connections, on Facebook, of powerful politicians and a firm embroiled in scandal.

Visual Data

Asylum seekers appealing returns must get own travel documents

The European Commission wants to increase the return rates of rejected asylum seekers, following pressure from EU states. But the reforms proposed seek to increase detention, and put people who are appealing their decisions at risk.

Russian activist warns on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

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


Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us