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Poland stands firm on EU pact as Brussels summit begins

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 30.01.2012 16:50
PM Donald Tusk (pictured left) reiterated his view Monday in Brussels that Poland will not accept a fiscal pact that excludes non-members from eurozone crisis talks.

PM Tusk with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban in Brussels: photo - PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Poland, Tusk said, “wants strong economic management, budgetary discipline and growth-oriented activity in Europe,” but that the outlines of the fiscal pact are “unambitious and insufficiently brave.”

The Polish team reportedly threatened to walk out of the talks hours before they began.

Tusk, after speaking with president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, reportedly believes Germany wants to include countries like Denmark, Poland and Sweden – all not yet in the euro - in the key summits.

A draft treaty currently on the negotiating table, thought to be backed by Paris but not Berlin, says that attendance of non-euro-zone countries should be left to the discretion of the summit president, and who "will be invited when appropriate and at least once a year".

France, with presidential elections in April, is reportedly thought to be more inclined to seek ‘harder’ solutions. That is to say greater delineation of centralised powers to impose budgetary stringency over euro-zone members.

The euro-sceptic opposition Law and Justice (PiS) appealed to the PM on Monday, meanwhile, not to sign up Poland to the fiscal pact at all.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's largest opposition party, Law and Justice (PiS) said the pact would split Europe and exclude Poland from the centre of decision making.

Kaczynski also said he was against Poland’s entry into the euro-zone, which is slated for 2015 at the earliest. “It makes no economic sense,” he said.

Of the major players within the 27-strong EU but outside of the 17-strong euro-zone, Sweden’s parliament has backed the draft treaty but on condition that Stockholm does not have to transfer budget decision-making powers to Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic may delay joining the treaty because of a split in its ruling coalition and Ireland may decide it has to put it to a referendum.

The UK has refused to back the treaty, while Denmark likewise has a euro opt-out but as head of the revolving EU presidency is apparently searching for some consensus.

The eurozone plans to launch a 500bn-euro permanent bailout fund - the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) - in July, a year earlier than first planned. It is expected to get the final go-ahead at the summit.

The existing temporary fund - the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) - is thought to be worth about 300bn euros and it ends next year.

Greece of course remains the biggest question mark at the summit, with negotiations ongoing between its government and private creditors to decide on how best to avoid a Greek default.

European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde said the EU executive supported the principle that non-euro countries should be invited to euro summits.

The role of the EU Court, in particular its powers to police the fiscal pact's rules is central to the debate.

Proposals as they stand now are for the EU Court to be able to impose fines of up to 0.1 percent of GDP on countries failing to adopt in their national legislation the balanced budget rule. (jh/pg)

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