|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.10, No.3, 29.1.04|
By Dennis Abbott in Davos
ALEKSANDER Kwasniewski, the Polish president, has not ruled out the possibility of a deal being reached on the EU constitution before enlargement day on 1 May.
"We have a chance during the Irish presidency to finish the job," he said during a debate on the future of Europe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
However, he cautioned that "it's not a drama" if a deal fails to materialize before then.
Kwasniewski was keen to explain why his country has remained steadfast in its desire to protect the generous voting arrangements in the Council of Ministers which it secured under the terms of the 2000 Nice Treaty. (The country was granted 27 votes, only two less than Germany which has twice the population.)
"It's important to have a constitutional treaty for Poland, but it came too early for us - or too late," said the president.
"We didn't discuss the constitution in our referendum [on EU membership]," he explained, adding that Poland needed time to organize "real majority support" and "restore a mood of confidence" before contemplating major changes.
He said he was also concerned about what he termed a "lack of solidarity" in the EU at present, blaming this squarely on the pairing which has traditionally provided the motor of the Union: "We think Germany and France want to dictate to the rest of Europe," he bluntly put it. Kwasniewski accused them of failing to take the transatlantic relationship seriously: "EU defence and security policy cannot go against the US," he argued.
His views were largely echoed by Janez Drnovsek, the president of Slovenia, who took part in the same debate.
"I don't see the EU as a counterweight to the US," he said. "I expect NATO will remain the main framework for defence."
Drnovsek was also dismissive of suggestions by Jacques Chirac and others that member states keen on quickening the pace of integration might form their own avant-garde group or union within a union.
"A two-speed Europe is not a good solution. It will change the concept [of the Union] and bring in new tensions." However, he was rather more optimistic than Kwasniewski about the future of EU foreign policy, declaring: "I doubt it will speak with one voice in future, but I think it will be better than now. The EU can be a moral authority in the world."
Pat Cox, the president of the European Parliament, warned against moves by some of the richer member states to impose a ceiling on the EU budget set at 1% of gross national income. "Do we really believe we can do it on the cheap? You get nothing for nothing," he said.
On foreign policy and security, Cox argued that the EU needed to spend more - and wiser. "We spend less than half that the US does on defence, but get less than a tenth of the capacity."
He also criticized the failure of member states to complete the single market. "We need more attitude and delivery - and less platitude," he declared.
Report of comments made by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, and other political leaders, at the World Economic Forum, Davos, January 2004, during a debate on the future of Europe.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|
|Countries / Regions||Poland|