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EU Presidency - Poland's dilemma

EU Presidency - Poland's dilemma
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Poland is promising an injection of optimism into its forthcoming presidency of the EU but that could easier said than done.

Internal politics could interfere with its priorities on the European stage. Piotr Maciej Kaczynski is a researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies.

“The biggest worry is that there’ll be elections during the presidency. The October elections will probably challenge the presidency in the sense that there’ll be no domestic consensus in Poland, on what the presidency business is.

The opposition attacking the government, the government responding to the opposition, that sort of dynamics that will politicise and put extra pressure on the government to deliver where it is not possible to deliver. The pressure from 26 other countries is already enough when you’re trying to reach consensus on many different points of view.”

Poland is one of the biggest beneficiaries of EU spending. By 2013, 28 billion euros will have been spent on infrastructure and environmental projects from the European Regional Development Fund.

The figure for total EU spending on Poland will be over 65 billion euros.

Understandably, Poland defends increasing EU budgets. They know that future talks on the long-term EU budget will be in hands of other presidencies, but that won’t stop them defending their corner.

Piotr Maciej Kaczynski says arguments are inevitable,

“There’ll certainly be a fight and there’ll be differences of opinion between the 27 EU members. We can expect opposition from London on the budget but there’s also a big coalition of countries who are recipients or net beneficiaries of the coming budget, and they’re not going to give up easily. So the challange is to keep it within a certain realistic perspective. We should not be too over-ambitious on this point”

Poland also wants to see greater understanding of its position on the environment. It gets 90% of its electricity from coal. That is why it recently angered the EU by blocking a deal on further reductions of Carbon Dioxide emissions. With a UN climate conference coming up in South Africa, some EU members are concerned the Polish stance might compromise its position as the number one fighter against climate change.

Poland is keen to be seen as an EU team player, but pressure at home, particularly on the environmental front, could see the country taking a more individual role.

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