17th Aug 2022

EU summit fails to break Polish veto deadlock

  • Finland was disappointed, but the work goes on (Photo:

Poland upheld its veto on EU-Russia treaty talks on Friday despite a rash of meetings with EU leaders at a summit in Brussels, but Polish president Lech Kaczynski said a solution is likely by the end of the year.

"It seemed like even today we might come to a compromise, but no. It's just a question of a few more days now - I can afford to be optimistic," the Pole said, with EU ambassadors now set to haggle over the finer points of the compromise next week ahead of the final chance for a 2006 resolution - an EU farm ministers' meeting ending on 21 December.

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"There is no result yet, but we still have two weeks left for the [Finnish EU] presidency to go," Finnish PM Matti Vanhanen said, after 24 hours of diplomacy which also saw Mr Kaczynski talking with Germany, the European Commission and his brother, the Polish PM, back in Warsaw.

Details on what the final compromise will look like are being kept under wraps for now. But Poland keeps on pushing for some form of a legally-binding mechanism, under which the EU would start treaty talks with Russia but then suspend them 50 or so days down the line unless Moscow lifted its meat export ban on Poland.

Finland and the other 23 member states are more keen on a political declaration on suspension instead and a longer timeframe for Russia to comply, with Mr Vanhanen's spokeswoman telling EUobserver "Member states are not ready to go with the [Polish] proposal, so they will have to find some other way."

"It's a little bit like two dogs with their teeth round each other's throats and neither one wants to let go," a Polish diplomat commented, with Finnish officials disappointed over the Polish situation after Polish presidential aide Andrzej Krawczyk on Thursday had raised hopes of a result during the summit itself.

The veto impasse leaves EU-Russia relations in a legal timewarp, with the extant EU-Russia treaty dating back to the mid-1990s Yeltsin era: a document that does not reflect the 2006 energy and security agenda of Brussels and bullish, gas-rich Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, bilateral relations with Russia deteriorated further this week, as Moscow said it will ban all EU exports of food from 1 January 2007, excepting Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark and even these only on condition they sign bilateral deals on health and safety first.

European Commission boss Jose Manuel Barroso attacked the move as "unreasonable" Thursday while Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland snubbed Russia's offer by refusing to do side-deals, with Finnish diplomats saying the spat has made the Polish veto talks harder. "If Moscow is not moving, then Poland will also do nothing," a Finnish contact said.

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