Poland hosts regional leaders for post-Brexit talks on EU

AP News
Posted: Jul 21, 2016 11:20 AM
Poland hosts regional leaders for post-Brexit talks on EU

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union needs reforms that would give more power to national parliaments, guarantee respect for European freedoms and ensure security under the pressure of a wave of migrants, leaders of the Visegrad Group of central European countries said Thursday.

Government leaders of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, or the V4, met in Warsaw to discuss the EU's prospects in the wake of Britain's decision to leave the club and ahead of an informal EU summit in September in Bratislava, Slovakia.

"We are at a dramatic point," said Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orban. "Because of Britain's leaving, the EU is losing its global role and is becoming a regional player. In Bratislava we need to think how to regain that global role."

They said that current EU policy, especially on accepting migrants, has pushed Britain out of the union and agreed that Britain should remain a close partner of the EU. Warsaw is also suggesting that Britain should be allowed to reconsider its decision to leave, a move commonly known as Brexit.

Poland and countries in the region see a need for a new European treaty that would give more autonomy to EU member states, arguing that it would make membership more attractive and prevent other nations from leaving. Western countries believe such fundamental change is not necessary.

Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said that the EU as it is at present "does not meet the expectations of the Europeans."

"The EU must go back to its roots and concentrate on the rights of its citizens and less on its instutitions," Szydlo told a news conference.

Szydlo said that member nations should be given more control over the decision-making processes in the EU, particularly when it means new obligations for members, as was the case last year when expecting them to accept pre-set numbers of migrants.

The Visegrad Group nations are not participating in the EU's program of accepting refugees, but some of them, like Hungary, were overwhelmed last year as migrants fleeing war and poverty flooded across borders to reach wealthy EU nations.

Hungary's Orban criticized EU's policy on migrants and appealed for help in protecting overall EU borders as well as those of his nation, linking the issue of illegal migrants to a general lack of security.

"We don't want to give up our sovereignty, we don't want to give up the defense of our borders, we don't want to give up the right to decide who we want to live with in Hungary," Orban said.

The Visegrad Group is a platform for hammering out regional and European policies by its member states.