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Polish, Hungarian FMs say EU marred by power grabs, double standards

08.09.2021 22:45
The Polish and Hungarian foreign ministers have lambasted Brussels for seeking to extend its power at the expense of member states and for espousing what they described as double standards, Poland's PAP news agency has reported.
Polands Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau (right) and his Hungarian counterpart Pter Szijjrtó (left) attend a panel discussion during the international Economic Forum in Karpacz, southern Poland.
Poland's Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau (right) and his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó (left) attend a panel discussion during the international Economic Forum in Karpacz, southern Poland.Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

Speaking at a major business conference in southern Poland, Poland's Zbigniew Rau said the European Union has "changed significantly" since Warsaw and Budapest joined the bloc in 2004. 

He told the annual Economic Forum in the southern Polish spa town of Karpacz that the free movement of people, capital and services, which originally attracted the two former communist countries to the EU, "is currently on the wane, amid protectionist tendencies in certain countries."

EU agencies grabbing power, 'sidestepping treaties': Polish FM

Moreover, "the EU's agencies, which lack the broad, democratic mandate of national institutions, are extending their powers by sidestepping the treaties," Rau said on Tuesday.

"They are going beyond the remit which has been handed to them," he added.

"This also applies to verdicts laid down by the Court of Justice of the European Union," Rau said during a panel discussion.

He called for "an EU that does not hinder Poland's economic growth and whose institutions do not use law as a tool" of political power play, "whether among member states or political currents within the bloc."

He also urged the EU to be more active vis-à-vis its eastern neighbours as part of the Polish-led Eastern Partnership initiative.

EU institutions 'motivated by ideology'

Rau also argued that the EU should "finally admit" Western Balkan countries, warning that otherwise "the vacuum may be filled by Russia," Poland's PAP news agency reported.

Poland's top diplomat also said that Europe's nations were "pluralistic" and that EU institutions "should not be motivated by any ideology."

EU institutions should avoid "giving too much power to the bloc's heavyweight members," he argued.

Rau also told the conference that "nothing can replace" regional cooperation platforms such as the four-nation Visegrad Group (V4) of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the Three Seas Initiative of 12 European countries between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas, the PAP news agency reported.

'Hypocrisy, double standards, lack of democratic debate'

Meanwhile, Hungary's top diplomat Péter Szijjártó told those at the conference that "the greatest challenges are hypocrisy, the use of double standards and the lack of a truly democratic debate in Europe."

Szijjarto argued that "anyone whose views veered outside the mainstream" was labelled "anti-European" and "marginalised" within the EU.

According to the Hungarian foreign minister, the bloc should be wary of opening its borders to migrants and must be "strong through the strength of its member states."

No 'United States of Europe': Hungarian FM

"We completely reject the extremist position of the federalists, who wish to see a United States of Europe," Szijjarto also said during the panel discussion, as quoted by the Polish state news agency.

"We do not want member countries to give any more powers to Brussels," he added.

He echoed Rau's praise of the V4 group, saying it allowed Budapest and Warsaw to alter the EU's migration policy during a crisis in 2015.

He, too, urged prompt admission of West Balkan countries to the bloc, criticising the skepticism of some of the bloc's Western members, the PAP news agency reported.

The panel discussion featuring the Polish and Hungarian foreign ministers was among the highlights of the first day of the Economic Forum, which runs in Karpacz until Thursday.

Dubbed "Polish Davos," the three-day annual conference—previously held in Krynica, another mountain resort in southern Poland—has attracted over 3,500 guests from around the globe, including senior politicians, parliamentarians, business executives and culture leaders.


Source: PAPgov.pl