Poland hopes for de-escalation of tensions with EU

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 10, 2018 8:57 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland hopes to be able to smooth tensions with the European Union by further dialogue, newly-appointed Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday, a day after meeting European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.

"I generally believe that with added effort to explain our intentions we will be able to clarify misunderstandings," he said. "I believe dialogue will lead to de-escalation."

But he sidestepped a question on whether Poland would be willing to offer concessions on judicial reform which lies at the heart of Warsaw's dispute with Brussels.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party which follows a nationalistic agenda sees the reforms as a fundamental part of its efforts to overhaul Poland's democratic institutions.

The PiS believes they are needed because the country has lost sight of its Catholic roots and is steeped in mentality and power structures dating to the post-war communist era.

Critics say that the government's efforts to wield control over courts and public media are tilting Poland toward authoritarian rule.

Morawiecki, speaking to foreign media on Wednesday, said the country wanted to play a constructive role in talks about the future of the EU.

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The PiS carried out a government reshuffle on Tuesday, removing some of the most criticized ministers, such as defense, health, environment, and foreign affairs from Morawiecki's team.

Some analysts say the move was aimed at improving the PiS's image externally and internally as it faces up to the spat with the EU and looks ahead to local elections this year.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Writing by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Richard Balmforth)