Poland set to miss out on EU migration summit

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 06, 2015 7:32 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's president has effectively absented the country's leadership from next week's European Union summit on migrant issues by calling the first new parliament sitting for the same day.

Earlier this week, EU Council chief and former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk called an informal meeting of EU heads of state for Nov.12 to discuss the migrant issue.

Three days later, President Andrzej Duda, backed by the Eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party, set the first sitting of Poland's new parliament for the same day, precluding both the old and new Prime Ministers, as well himself from attending the EU summit.

At the first sitting the old Prime Minister traditionally steps down and the new one is sworn in in the presence of the Polish president.

"It is only an informal meeting," PiS spokeswoman Elzbieta Witek told reporters of the EU talks. "Donald Tusk knew the possible dates for the first sitting and yet he called the summit on one of them."

Poland has been at odds with EU plans to help relocate migrants from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of set country quotas.

The election of the conservative PiS means Poland may join ranks with Hungary and Slovakia in opposing relocation of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, deepening divisions in the EU, where Germany's Angela Merkel in particular has advocated a more open approach.

Witold Waszczykowski, tipped to take the foreign minister spot in a PiS government, told the TVN24 channel Poland might delegate an ambassador to the first session "who could gather opinions, as no decisions are to be made there".

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Additional reporting by Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; editing by Ralph Boulton)