Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen has demanded Poland hand over more money to the EU and said it should adopt the euro single currency.
Katainen said in Warsaw on Wednesday that “the EU is not just a money machine, a cow that you can milk. We are expecting a more substantial contribution from Poland for the future of Europe,” reports German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Mr Katainen was marking 15 years since Poland joined the EU, along with nine other countries, in 2004. Since that time Poland has received more than €100 billion for various projects, making it the single biggest recipient of EU funding in the bloc.
Poland’s conservative-populist government, however, has bristled at suggestions that the price of this EU funding should be obedience to Brussels and globalist-leaning governments in Berlin and Paris, noting that between four and five per cent of Poland-made GDP is “posted as profit abroad” as a result of Western member-states taking advantage of EU Single Market structures in Poland.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, an ally of Poland, has also observed that “[Western member-states] make money on us, they do not give us this money” while visiting the country.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 10, 2016
The EU’s demand for more cash from Poland comes as the EU looks to shore up its finances ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU, which will deprive it of billions of pounds annually — if it ever goes ahead.
At present, the UK is one of the EU’s major contributors, paying in around £19 billion a year gross, or £9-13 billion after the country’s rebate and public sector receipts are discounted.
To cope with losing this money, the EU is considering cuts to its “cohesion funds” — money paid to member-states to help combat financial disparity between countries.
The European Commission has also urged Poland to join the Euro, with Mr Katainen claiming Poland “would benefit a lot from eurozone membership” and describing their economic growth as “remarkable”.
The governing Law and Justice Party (PiS) have resisted this call up to now, saying that Poland would need to be on an equal footing to Germany, currently the bloc’s largest economy, before it considered membership of the German-dominated single currency.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 28, 2016
The EU is currently at odds with Poland more broadly over supposed infractions of the rule of law. The bloc has been pressuring the PiS government over judicial reforms, and in March, Belgium and Germany suggested a system of “peer review” for national legislation alleged to impact rule of law — which could seriously undermine national sovereignty.
PiS, however, insist they are merely trying to undo the corrupt legacy of the former Communist regime, which helped to shape Poland’s modern judiciary before its fall, with critics observing that the European Commission seemed less interested when the EU loyalist Civic Platform (PO) government which PiS replaced attempted to pack the Constitutional Tribunal with five judges of its own choice before it was turfed out of office.
Concern over the rule of law was “merely a smokescreen” for EU intervention in Poland’s domestic affairs, alleged Czech MEP Petr Mach in a European Parliament debate on the situation.
“The European Commission is upset about the fact that the winning party in Polish election doesn’t like the EU in the current form. It doesn’t want to accept the dictate of migrant quotas. That is what this is about. This is scandalous interference in the affairs of a sovereign country,” he said.
Poland: EU Will Not ‘Impose a Social Catastrophe’ with Migrant Quotas https://t.co/dAlcrPH05O
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 3, 2017
“The most important thing is that EU is based on common values. Rule of law, democracy and human rights,” Mr Katainen insisted in a tweet following the event in Warsaw.
This contrasts with the vision of the EU sold to the British public, who are typically assured that the bloc is just a “trade club”.