Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

EU summit fails to break Polish veto deadlock

  • Finland was disappointed, but the work goes on (Photo: eu2006.fi)

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"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.

Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Russian citizens were circumventing the European airspace ban by driving to Helsinki airport, which was being used as a hub to fly to other tourist destinations. Finland is now restricting those border crossings.

Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey

The Swedish government has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen with Kurdish roots wanted for credit card fraud to Turkey, amid the backdrop of Turkey's Nato threat.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

Opinion

A year of Taliban — only aid is keeping Afghan kids alive

It's a year since the Western military presence in Afghanistan ended. A year since panic-stricken people flocked to Kabul airport, trying to flee the country, and girls and women waited fearfully for the disintegration of their hard-won rights.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us