Poland calls for some ‘give’ from Brus­sels on May’s deal

Se­nior EU min­is­ter makes intervention after hopes of last-minute com­pro­mise on back­stop are dashed

The Sunday Telegraph - - Countdown to Brexit - By Ed­ward Mal­nick SUN­DAY PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR

A SE­NIOR EU min­is­ter has bro­ken ranks over Brus­sels’ re­fusal to of­fer con­ces­sions to help sal­vage Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Speak­ing on a visit to London, Anna Maria An­ders, the Pol­ish sec­re­tary of state for in­ter­na­tional di­a­logue, said the on­go­ing uncer­tainty over the UK’s de­par­ture from the bloc was a “dis­as­ter for ev­ery­body” and called for some “give” from Brus­sels.

Ms An­ders, who has stud­ied and worked in the UK, also de­scribed the prospect of a second ref­er­en­dum as the “worst sce­nario, be­cause we start all over again”.

Her intervention, in an in­ter­view with The Sun­day Tele­graph, comes after EU of­fi­cials in­sisted they would of­fer no com­pro­mises to help Mrs May’s deal gain the ap­proval of MPs.

On Fri­day, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent, said: “This is our fi­nal of­fer. We can add clar­i­fi­ca­tions but we will not rene­go­ti­ate. The choice is: ac­cept or re­ject it.”

But Ms An­ders said: “I think a lit­tle bit of give on Brus­sels’ part would be good. The prob­lem with Brus­sels and the EU gen­er­ally is the fact it is so dif­fer­ent to the way it was when Bri­tain first joined the EU.

“I think the bu­reau­cracy in Brus­sels has be­come a real issue … Right now they are re­fus­ing to com­pro­mise. Frankly, I just wish that we would get on with it.

“This pe­riod of uncer­tainty is a dis­as­ter. It is a dis­as­ter for ev­ery­body. It has weakened the lead­er­ship in this coun­try ter­ri­bly and peo­ple want to move on.”

MPs are ex­pect­ing an “ex­change of let­ters” be­tween Down­ing Street and Brus­sels to­mor­row, which is de­signed to help al­lay fears the deal could leave the UK trapped in the EU’s cus­toms union. How­ever, Mr Juncker’s com­ments ap­pear to con­firm the cor­re­spon­dence will sim­ply re­state “am­bi­tions” that the so-called back­stop ar­range­ment will end after a year, rather than of­fer any fresh con­ces­sions such as an end date or uni­lat­eral exit mech­a­nism for the UK.

Mrs An­ders’s intervention sug­gests some EU states could put pres­sure on the com­mis­sion to go fur­ther if Mrs May’s deal is voted down this week. It comes after Ma­teusz Mo­raw­iecki, the Pol­ish prime min­is­ter, told The Tele­graph last month that he was dis­ap­pointed by the “rather un­for­tu­nate be­hav­iour” of se­nior EU of­fi­cials such as Mr Juncker, who had sug­gested Mrs May was be­ing “neb­u­lous” at a crunch sum­mit.

Ms An­ders, a Pol­ish se­na­tor, said the UK’s de­par­ture was “not go­ing to be great for Poland” be­cause it would

‘I hope it doesn’t come to an­other ref­er­en­dum. That’s the worst sce­nario, be­cause we start all over again’

“weaken the Euro­pean Union”. But she warned against a re-run of the 2016 vote, stat­ing: “I hope it doesn’t come to an­other ref­er­en­dum. I think that prob­a­bly is the worst sce­nario, be­cause we start all over again. I hope that we can man­age to reach some sort of a deal.”

Ms An­ders said Poland’s pri­mary con­cern was for the rights of its cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK, although she said Mrs May had in­di­cated that they would be “taken care of ” in any sce­nario.

But she also dis­closed that Poland now wanted to draw ex­pats back from the UK, high­light­ing the coun­try’s im­prov­ing econ­omy as a fac­tor that could en­cour­age cit­i­zens to re­turn. Last year, Poland be­came the first coun­try from Cen­tral and East­ern Europe to be ranked a “de­vel­oped mar­ket” on the FTSE Rus­sell in­dex.

“As a Pol­ish politi­cian who is try­ing to push Poland for­ward, it is my dream that a lot of those Pol­ish peo­ple here in the UK will go back to Poland,” Ms An­ders said.

“Bet­ter-pay­ing jobs in Poland would en­able peo­ple to come back.”

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