WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's president said Thursday that European Union institutions bear some responsibility for what he called "social disillusionment" with integration, and called on them to be more attentive to the needs of member nations.
Andrzej Duda was speaking at a New Year's reception for foreign ambassadors that he hosted at the Presidential Palace.
Pointing to Brexit and recent elections in some western European nations where euroskeptics won significant backing, he said that that was the result of EU institutions being deaf to the needs of its 28 member states.
"European Union institutions should take their part of responsibility for this social disillusionment with the integration and should analyze the mistakes made," Duda said. "It is the task of union institutions (to build) a harmonious European policy but not to stigmatize, divide and antagonize European nations."
He said EU institutions should serve the will of member nations.
"If we reverse that hierarchy and place institutions above the nations, then we disturb the correct order of things."
Poland, an EU member since 2004 and the largest in the group that joined at the time, is in an unprecedented conflict with EU leaders who say its current reform of the judiciary goes against the bloc's fundamental values and have launched a sanctioning procedure, Article 7, which can strip Poland of its EU voting rights. It would be the first such case in EU history.
"Whoever thinks that he has the exclusive right to says what Europe should be, without asking and taking into account the opinion of the others, he is a usurper of the European idea," Duda said.
Seeking to avert sanctions and to mend ties, Poland's ruling conservative party has reshuffled the government with officials open to dialogue who haven't drawn EU criticism. Warsaw is also working to win allies in the spat.
"Poland will take consistent action for European unity, without divisions into those better and those worse and without any regulation of the voting rights," Duda said.