Poland prepared to veto EU budget, Polish PM warns

2020-11-18 20:54 update: 2020-11-19, 20:40
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/Rafał Guz
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/Rafał Guz
In Wednesday's address to the Polish parliament, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland rejects any unequal treatment of member states and that it could veto the EU's budget over plans to link rule of law to access to EU funding.

"If our partners do not understand that we do not agree to the unequal treatment of (EU member - PAP) states, to a rod which will always be used against us, only because someone does not like our government, then we will actually use this veto in the end," Morawiecki told members of the lower house of Polish parliament, the Sejm. 

At a meeting of ambassadors from EU governments in Brussels on Monday, Poland and Hungary refused to give a green light to the European Union's next budget and its COVID-19 recovery programme because the bloc's funding was made conditional on upholding rule-of-law standards, such as an independent judiciary. 

The Polish prime minister said in the Sejm that the EU could eventually "collapse" if it adopts a mechanism that would allow countries to be punished by bureaucrats in Brussels, based on their own interpretation of new rules.

"We say a loud 'yes' to the EU; however, we are saying a loud 'no' to mechanisms that allow for unequal treatment of Poland and other countries," Morawiecki told Polish lawmakers.

He said that the EU should consist of values such as the equality of all states before the law and respect for treaties, rather than create regulations "that de facto circumvent treaties." He added that, on Thursday, he would tell the European Council that the observation of values is the European raison d'etat.

Morawiecki also said that the negotiations on the EU budget are "a game about sovereignty, self-determination, autonomy and independence (... ) and we certainly will not give up on such values."

He also appealed to the members of the Polish parliament to show solidarity with the government's potential decision to veto the EU budget, which, as he said, would place the Polish nation's fate in its own hands.

"This is a question of whether or not our fate is in our hands; this is not a division between the right-wingers and the left-wingers, this is a division between those who want the Polish nation to decide for itself and those who think that our fate should be decided by a few officials in Brussels," Morawiecki said.

The EU budget must be approved unanimously by the bloc’s 27 member states. The spending plans also include a EUR 750-billion coronavirus rescue package. 

EU leaders are due to hold a video conference on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus crisis. They may try to convince Poland and Hungary to resolve the budget stand-off. (PAP)