EU Exit Ruled Out by Poland’s Leader
(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s de facto leader said the country has no plans to leave the European Union, toning down the rhetoric in an increasingly bitter row about membership sparked by delays in clearing billions of euros of stimulus funding.
“We want to be in the EU,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who heads the ruling Law & Justice party, told state news service PAP in an interview on Wednesday. “But at the same time, we want to remain a sovereign state.”
Holdups in approving 36 billion euros ($42.4 billion) in EU pandemic aid have prompted senior ruling-party officials to raise the specter of Poland following the U.K. out of the EU. One has even compared the spat with Brussels to Germany’s occupation of Poland during World War II.
The largest eastern EU state has been at odds with the bloc for years over judicial independence, media freedom and LGBTQ rights. The most-recent squabble is over whether Poland’s constitution trumps EU laws.
The country is one of only two members to have submitted plans for spending the pandemic cash but not yet received clearance. The other is Hungary, which has also clashed repeatedly with EU officials.
Kaczynski’s remarks follow repeated warnings by the main opposition party that Law & Justice wants Poland to quit the EU. With his parliamentary support shrinking and some commentators predicting early elections, Kaczynski on Wednesday described talk of a so-called Polexit as a “propaganda ploy.”
A survey published Wednesday by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper showed 68% of Poles see access to EU funding as the key benefit of membership in the 27-nation bloc.
Deputy EU Funds Minister Waldemar Buda said Wednesday that he’s convinced Poland’s spending plan will be approved by year-end and that the government is open to making changes in its funding pitch.
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