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EU countries determined to enlarge bloc: Polish FM

03.11.2023 07:00
The member states of the European Union agree that now is the time to step up efforts to enlarge the bloc, Poland’s foreign minister has said.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau talks to reporters in Berlin on Thursday, November 2, 2023.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau talks to reporters in Berlin on Thursday, November 2, 2023.X/Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Zbigniew Rau made the statement in Berlin on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The Polish foreign minister spoke to the media after attending a ministerial conference on EU enlargement and reform in the German capital earlier in the day. 

Entitled A larger, stronger Union – making the European Union fit for enlargement and future members fit for accession, the event was hosted by Germany’s top diplomat Annalena Baerbock.

It came as the six countries of the Western Balkans, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, are at varying stages of the process of joining the EU, the PAP news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Moldova and Ukraine were granted EU candidate status last year, and Georgia is awaiting a similar decision, according to officials.

Rau told reporters that the ministers had agreed that “now is the time to step up efforts to enlarge the EU.”

He added that the issue of EU reform, notably the European Parliament’s proposal to scrap the principle of unanimity in the bloc’s decision making, “sparked a major discussion” and some “negative responses in behind-the-scenes talks.”

Rau stated that “Poland favours a Europe of sovereign states,” and "so opposes such plans, together with several other member states," the PAP news agency reported. 

Poland’s foreign minister said "such proposals" could delay enlargement of the EU. 

He added that Poland and Germany differed on this issue, as well as when it came to Poland’s demand that Germany pay reparations for World War II.

State of relations with Germany 'far from desirable': Polish FM

Poland’s foreign minister described the current state of Polish-German relations as “far from desirable,” the PAP news agency reported.

Rau also said that Poland “supports the plan to launch EU accession negotiations with Ukraine in December,” as well as Kyiv’s bid to join NATO.

Asked about the evacuation of Poles from the Gaza Strip, amid Israel’s offensive against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the foreign minister said that Polish diplomats in the Middle East were in "constant contact” with Polish citizens in Gaza.

Rau stated that Poland awaited Israel’s decision to “include Polish citizens in its evacuation transports.”

Poland supports EU enlargement, opposes changes in EU treaties: FM

During the Berlin conference, Rau said that Poland was “in favour of continuing EU enlargement policy based on established rules and substantive criteria, but without reforming the treaties.”

Poland’s foreign minister stated: "We attach great importance to the process of harmonising the foreign policy of candidate countries with the common foreign and security policy, also in such difficult political matters as sanctions."

In a debate on the attempts to extend the scope of qualified majority voting in the EU, Rau emphasised Poland's sceptical stance, adding that “questions of strategic importance for the future European integration should be discussed and decided in a new institutional cycle.”

Poland’s top diplomat said: "The Polish government believes that extending the scope of qualified majority voting will not necessarily translate into enhanced EU effectiveness, but, on the contrary, poses a risk of deepening the existing crisis within the EU and differences between its member states."

Rau added that this solution "also involves the risk of some member states' greater dominance in shaping the common foreign and security policy,” which could undermine the EU's political unity, according to the Polish foreign ministry.

In a statement issued after the Berlin conference, the foreign ministry in Warsaw said: “Poland continues its diplomatic efforts at the EU forum to maintain an appropriate dynamic of the enlargement process, with both the Western Balkan and the Eastern Partnership countries.”

The ministry added: “We consistently seek an optimal result, that is a decision to launch accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova at the European Council as soon as in December this year.”


Source: PAP, gov.pl

Click on the audio player above for a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.