Poland sees tough talks on Britain's EU immigrant plan

Reuters News
Posted: May 29, 2015 4:00 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will be very firm in its talks with Prime Minister David Cameron over the situation of Polish immigrants in Britain and would reject changing EU treaties, ministers from the Eastern European country said.

Cameron was in Warsaw on the second day of a whirlwind European tour to try to drum up support for EU reform. He has promised to secure a settlement before giving Britons an EU membership in-out referendum by the end of 2017.

One of Cameron's key demands in the renegotiation is cutting welfare payments to EU migrants in Britain. Around 800,000 Poles live in Britain, as well as many other Eastern Europeans.

"We want Great Britain to stay in the EU. But the interest of Poles, our citizens who live in Great Britain is important," Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna Schetyna told public broadcaster TVP1 on Friday.

"It's a question of the joint market, these are basic questions. We understand the British stance. But there are also EU fundamentals on which joint Europe was forged. It will be a tough conversation, but very firm on the Polish side."

Cameron met Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz on Friday morning and is then due to head to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"As far as treaty changes are concerned or the introduction of discriminatory measures, that would be a red line for Poland, Poland's Minister for European Affairs Rafal Trzaskowski told the BBC.

"If every country comes with a shopping list to change European Union policies, that will be the end of the European construction, it will simply implode."

Volker Treier, deputy chief executive of Germany's chamber of commerce and industry, expressed a similar view. He told the BBC Merkel should not offer Britain concessions because it would encourage other countries to demand changes to their terms of membership.

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski and Wiktor Szary; Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in LONDON; Writing by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Toby Chopra)