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Thread: Polish threat to block EU vote on constitution

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    Mad Polish threat to block EU vote on constitution

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0...099452,00.html

    Polish threat to block EU vote on constitution

    New member stands firm against German pressure

    Ian Traynor in Warsaw
    Thursday December 4, 2003
    The Guardian


    The Polish foreign minister warned yesterday that Warsaw will block overall agreement on a new European constitution at a summit in Brussels next week as he attacked the patronising tone of western European governments towards their neighbours in the east.
    In an interview with the Guardian, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz reserved special criticism for the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, accusing him of failing to understand how the EU functions.

    With negotiations about the constitution ongoing, Warsaw is insisting that it wants to retain the system agreed three years ago which allocated the country 27 EU votes. Germany has led demands to scrap this formula because of criticism that it is overgenerous to Poland.

    But Mr Cimoszewicz suggested that the dispensation agreed at an EU summit in France three years ago was non-negotiable. Warsaw might agree to review the system in a few years in the light of "practical experience", he said.

    The battle over voting rights in an expanded union of 25 is the biggest hurdle to a breakthrough at next week's Brussels summit on the EU constitutional treaty drafted by Valéry Giscard D'Estaing.

    Mr Cimoszewicz said the row should be bracketed out of next week's negotiations to avoid a possible failure to adopt the new treaty.

    "We are very close to conclusions," he said of the treaty summit. "In fact, the only really difficult issue that is still far from being solved is the voting system...

    "The situation is not easy. There is very little space for any compromise. The positions presented by countries are so different."

    Although Poland is not yet formally an EU member, it is already flexing the muscle conferred by becoming the sixth biggest member of 25. By a large margin it is the biggest of the 10 countries joining next May. Its tough negotiating stance is already attracting disparaging comment from west European governments.

    Berlin is determined to overhaul the voting system to reflect Germany's size in the union.

    "We're not just going to be silent," Mr Cimoszewicz said.

    "The irritation we see in some European countries is caused by the fact that no one even thought that Poland should be treated as a partner.

    "Unfortunately, there are still many people in the European Union who think about enlargement as a kind of grace offered to the poorer brothers in Europe."

    The simmering tension boiled over last week when the EU commissioner in charge of enlargement, Günther Verheugen, who is German, snapped angrily at Polish MPs: "If this is the way Poland begins its membership of the EU, I regret my efforts on Poland's behalf."

    The comment sparked outrage in Warsaw, but Mr Schröder recently voiced incredulity at the notion of Poland and Spain, whose combined populations are just under Germany's 80 million, between them having a total of 54 votes to Germany's 29 if no overhaul is agreed. Asked about Mr Schröder's remarks, Mr Cimoszewicz snapped: "That's a misunderstanding."

    The new treaty proposes to replace such voting quotas with a system carrying decisions when at least half of the member countries, representing at least 60% of the EU population, are in favour.

    Warsaw has dug in its heels, arguing that the place for reflecting a member state's size is the European parliament and not in the decision-taking processes of the European council, which brings together heads of state and government. Germany has almost double the number of Poland's European MPs.

    "Let's not mix different elements of European structures," the Polish minister said. "The system must reflect various values, but not neglect or ignore the equal rights of the states, the members."

    The tough stance enjoys broad support at home and any concessions could fatally wound an already weak government. "We're afraid of making the impression that we lied to the public in the referendum [on joining the EU]," said Adam Michnik, the influential editor of the bestselling newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. "Our government will certainly not sign the treaty."

    Mr Cimoszewicz said he had reached agreement with Britain, increasingly Poland's main ally on the issue, that the dispute should be deferred until 2009 when the system agreed in Nice is to lapse .

    "I can hardly imagine any other solution," he said, adding: "There is no really good reason to have such a hard controversy over the idea of changing the voting system now.

    "It would be really rational if we wait a little, get some practical experience and then decide what is best."

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    Account Inactive friedrich braun's Avatar
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    I'm not surprised at another fine example of Polak megalomania and delusions of grandeur. I never understood why the West cares about Polaks so much.

    But anyway, I hope that the whole EU monstrosity dies a well deserved death --if Polaks help it happen, I might even put in a good word for them (if properly medicated).

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    Thumbs Up Germany immovable in row over EU voting rights

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/germany/ar...102226,00.html

    Germany immovable in row over EU voting rights

    Luke Harding
    Monday December 8, 2003
    The Guardian

    Germany's chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, last night set the stage for a major diplomatic row at a summit later this week when he said Germany would not back down in a dispute over EU voting rights.
    The chancellor said that he was "immovable" over the issue, which has placed Germany and France on a collision course with Poland.

    Speaking in Berlin after a meeting with the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, whose country holds the EU presidency, Mr Schröder said he would not agree "a deal at any cost" when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Friday.

    "I'm happy that the Italian presidency sees the question of voting rights exactly as Germany does," he said. "We must stick to the result of the [EU constitutional] convention." He added: "This is a question on which we are not movable."

    Poland, which joins the EU in May, and Spain are insisting that the EU stick to an agree ment made in Nice in 2000 which gives them 27 votes in EU decision making - almost as many as much bigger countries such as Germany, Britain, France and Italy, which get 29 votes each.

    The draft constitution drawn up earlier this year recommends that the treaty be abandoned. Instead, it suggests, decisions may be adopted if at least half the EU states, representing at least 60% of the EU population, are in favour, following the accession of 10 new countries next year.

    In an interview with the Guardian last week, Poland's foreign minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, said Germany had adopted a patronising attitude to its eastern neighbours, and Mr Schröder did not understand how the EU worked.

    "Unfortunately, there are still many people in the European Union who think about enlargement as a kind of grace offered to the poorer brothers in Europe," he said.

    Poland wants the existing system to carry on until 2009, when the Nice Treaty expires - a position supported by Britain.

    The German argument is that it is absurd for Poland, which has a population of 38 million, to have almost as much influence in the new EU as Germany, with 83 million people.

    Although Poland is not yet formally an EU member, it will be the sixth-biggest of 25 when the union enlarges in May, and it is already flexing its muscles.

    EU leaders are also divided over a proposal to cut the EU's executive commission to 15 members when the group expands. Larger countries are resisting the smaller members' demands to have their own commissioner.

    Yesterday Mr Berlusconi said he still thought a deal on voting rights was possible.

    "We truly hope that in Brussels, even at the last minute, an agreement can be found... so that Europe can have a dignity equal to all other world powers," he said.

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    Senior Member Johnny Reb's Avatar
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    Why didn't they figure out it was a flawed system before promising it to Poland? It doesn't take a rocket science to see it's unfair. Now Poland has signed up, and they're already changing the rules. :-(

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    Senior Member Johnny Reb's Avatar
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    Megalomania says the Hitlerite! As I said in my response to Loki's latest article on this matter, the Poles were given this awesome deal as incentive to join, and now they're trying to back out of it. Don't blame to Poles. You would be lucky to have such an enthoconscious people holding that much sway. Seems that all France and Germany have done with their power is let in hordes of muslims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Reb
    Why didn't they figure out it was a flawed system before promising it to Poland? It doesn't take a rocket science to see it's unfair. Now Poland has signed up, and they're already changing the rules. :-(
    Exactly. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Germany has had a bad deal, considering its large population. Even greedy and arrogant Poland can figure that one out. Better yet, let's not allow Poland into the EU at all.

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    Senior Member Johnny Reb's Avatar
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    Do you know what an indian giver is? It's not greedy and arrogant to accept a good deal, and then be angry when they try and take it away. I would fully support Poland not being in the EU though. On that we agree!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Reb
    Megalomania says the Hitlerite! As I said in my response to Loki's latest article on this matter, the Poles were given this awesome deal as incentive to join, and now they're trying to back out of it. Don't blame to Poles. You would be lucky to have such an enthoconscious people holding that much sway. Seems that all France and Germany have done with their power is let in hordes of muslims.
    Johnny Reb, do you honestly believe that a country with a population of 38 million should have equal say as one with 83 million?

    Poland is only "ethnoconscious" as far as its own people are concerned. They don't give a shit about Germans or anyone else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Reb
    Do you know what an indian giver is? It's not greedy and arrogant to accept a good deal, and then be angry when they try and take it away. I would fully support Poland not being in the EU though. On that we agree!
    I agree that it was stupid to give Poland false hopes in the beginning, by misleadingly saying they would have as much say as Germany. That is ridiculous, and should never have been promised in the first place. I just can't figure out these politicians. They're crazy.

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    Senior Member Johnny Reb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki
    Johnny Reb, do you honestly believe that a country with a population of 38 million should have equal say as one with 83 million?

    Poland is only "ethnoconscious" as far as its own people are concerned. They don't give a shit about Germans or anyone else.
    I have agreed with you that it's not fair. I'm only arguing that in principle, it is unfair for the EU to have offered Poland such a sweet deal as the terms for it's joining, and then to try and change it once they're in.

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