President of the European Council Donald Tusk has said that Poland could leave the European Union if it continues to clash with the bloc over migrants and judicial reform.
Alluding to then-Prime Minister David Cameron not expecting the UK would leave the EU, Tusk said he hoped Poles would “come to their senses” and accept their place in the bloc before they accidentally find themselves leaving it, reports Reuters.
“The issue is that Cameron also had no plan to take the UK out of the EU. And the will [among member states] to keep Poland inside the EU is smaller than the will to keep the UK in it.
“This issue is incredibly serious, the risk is deadly serious, I want everybody to come to their senses.”
“It does not matter to me whether [Law and Justice Party (PiS) leader] Jarosław Kaczyński plans to leave the EU or just initiates some processes that lead to that outcome,” Tusk added during a visit to Warsaw, Poland, on Monday.
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Mr Kaczyński dismissed threats of an accidental, or forced, Polexit as opposition “propaganda” meant to discredit PiS.
Tusk is the former Prime Minister of Poland and leader of the left-wing Civic Platform Party, which served in a coalition government that in September 2015 agreed to accept 4,500-5,000 redistributed asylum seekers from the EU.
However, in October 2015, PiS swept the parliamentary election and became the first Polish party in the post-1989 era to win a mandate to govern the country without a coalition, the party rejecting the migrant quotas in a move backed by Polish citizens.
Tusk won a second term as European Council president in March 2017, despite objections from the Polish government.
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Poland is facing mounting pressure from the European Commission over its refusal to accept the forced redistribution of migrants from the Global South, and for reforms to the country’s judiciary that PiS says are needed to clear out remnants of the former Soviet satellite nation’s Communist past, which EC first vice-president Frans Timmermans called a “serious breach of the rule of law”.
The Commission launched a political assault on the right-wing government in December, triggering Article 7 proceedings that could see Poland lose its voting rights and face other sanctions. Fellow mass-migration sceptic Hungary was also subjected to Article 7, after it was triggered this time by the European Parliament in September, though no substantial movements have been made against either country since.
Tusk was also in Poland Monday to testify in a parliamentary commission investigation into the collapse of a pyramid scheme while he was the country’s Prime Minister, with ministers alleging he had failed to monitor the risks of the rapid growth of Amber Gold whose liquidation in 2012 robbed thousands of Poles, many elderly, of their life savings.