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François Hollande to arrive in Warsaw for EU, trade talks

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 16.11.2012 08:11
French president President François Hollande is in Warsaw, Friday, in the build up to crucial EU budget talks in Brussels next week.

Francois Hollande: photo - PAP EPA YOAN VALAT

Hollande, who won the French presidential elections six months ago, will be welcomed at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw by President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Later, the French president will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In the afternoon, Hollande will take part in the Polish-French Economic Forum at the Copernicus Science Centre. President Komorowski and his wife Anna will then give an official dinner in honour of the President of France at the Presidential Palace.

During talks, Warsaw will be pushing for support from Paris on levels of so-called 'cohesion funds' for poorer EU members, of which Poland is the largest beneficiary.

The EU is split on whether to cut the European Commission's proposed 1 trillion euro budget for 2014-20.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said: “I have to try to find a position which is fair to all. I will travel next week to Brussels with the firm intention that we give our best in order to get an agreement.”

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, after talks with Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday that he was hopeful of a compromise between the rich and poorer EU nations.

"I am a cautious optimist but also a realist," Tusk said, "we have good will to reach a compromise".

Last night PM Tusk spoke with the UK's prime minister David Cameron, who is seeking to cut the EU budget.

Diplomatic offensive

The visit to the Polish capital by France's head of state comes amid a frantic Polish diplomatic offensive to maintain EU funding in the 2014 – 2020 period.

Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski has been on various British media this week warning the UK not to abandon its place at the EU negotiating table, as Euroscepticism grows in the country.

Following Cameron's announcement that British voters would be asked to vote on EU membership in a referendum in the next two years, Sikorski told the Times (London) that Britain could become an “offshore Switzerland” if it left the EU, but would lose political and economic influence across the world.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's largest opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) said that he had assurances from David Cameron that cuts in the EU's budget “would only affect richer countries”.

Law and Justice and the British Conservative party, which Cameron leads , are both in the eurosceptic European Reformists and Conservatives (ERC) bloc in the European Parliament.

Kaczynski also said on Thursday that he has written to the French president, asking him to support Polish demands, “include efforts to equalize different levels of individual countries and regions of the European Union.”

“I refer to the French interest in the Common Agricultural Policy,” he said, adding that he “definitely does not agree to cuts being made in European Union at the expense of the Polish countryside”.

President under fire

President Hollande has come under fire at home and abroad for not tackling a growing budget deficit in his country as he concentrates more on stimulus packages and not on austerity programmes favoured in Germany, for instance.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was reported this week to have ordered Germany's so-called "Five Wise Men" of independent economic advisers to draw up reform proposals for France.

The German government quickly denied they had any such plans, however. (pg)

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