Polish-British intergovernmental consultations start in London on Monday

Prime Minister Beata Szydło and her cabinet members are going to London on Monday for Polish-British consultations. They will be discussing the implementation of NATO decisions and issues relating to Poles living in the UK. Szydło and the British chief of government Theresa May will also meet with the Polish community in Britain.

Poland’s prime minister will be accompanied on her London visit by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development and Finance Mateusz Morawiecki, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, MoD chief Antoni Macierewicz, Minister of the Interior and Administration Mariusz Błaszczak, Deputy Minister of Family, Labour, and Social Policy Stanisław Szwed and Deputy Minister of Science Łukasz Szumowski.

"These are going to be the first ever Polish-British intergovernmental consultations. They will open a new format of cooperation between Poland and the United Kingdom," Government Spokesman Rafał Bochenek told PAP. He added that until now Great Britain has only held intergovernmental consultations with France. The initiative to hold this meeting came from the Polish chief of government during Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Warsaw in July. 

The chiefs of both governments will hold intergovernmental consultations and meet with Poles living in the British Isles. 

The first stop during the visit will be Polish War Memorial in Northold, which commemorates 303 Polish Fighter Squadron pilots, where Szydło and May will lay wreaths. 

Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański told PAP that the focus of Monday’s talks will be international security issues relating to the implementation of Warsaw NATO Summit decisions. "Great Britain, irrespective of its latest decisions, will play an absolutely key role in this organisation," underscored the MFA deputy minister 

According to Szymański there are no reasons why the EU should close itself to cooperation in the area of security with Great Britain once its membership of the EU ceases. He went on to say that joint activities should be sustained in security policy turned inwards – towards fighting terrorism and trans-border crime – and in its external dimension, as well as in the field of development policy. "Here we also have a share interest to prevent the spread of instability," noted Szymański. 

The talks will cover issues relating to Poles living in the British Isles. "There will be many issues to discuss dealing with social insurance, the coordination of social systems, which are not necessarily connected with Brexit," said Szymański. 

The process of Great Britain leaving the EU has not started yet; it will be triggered by an official notification of the UK’s intention to leave the EU which the British government announced will happen by March 2017. 

"Until Great Britain notifies its intention to leave the UK, there is no readiness to negotiate the terms of its EU exit. We, in particular, are not prepared to negotiate these terms separately. Our expectations have to be reflected in a common EU mandate. Only in this way can we hope to enhance Poland’s position vis-à-vis London. This is the overriding principle that applies to the Brexit process," said Szymański. "There is no room for negotiations prior to notification, and no room for bilateral negotiations," he went on to add. 

According to Szymański, Poland will have a better chance at securing its interests if they become part and parcel of the relevant overall EU strategy. In his opinion, Poland has already gained a lot, its interests are well reflected in the EU’s expectations of Brexit today.

The purpose of the London visit "is not to address issues that are directly connected with Brexit, even though it does takes place in the context of Brexit and of course this context is inevitable. The issue will keep coming back to us" said the deputy foreign minister.

"However, no matter what happens with Brexit, we have to maintain an ongoing and close contact with the British government administration because we want to guarantee the highest possible level of protection of the rights of Poles who have decided to live, work, and study in Britain," he stressed. 

According to Szymański, the Polish government expects the British government, still before the start of Brexit talks, to ensure legal security to those persons who have decided to live in the UK. He believes that today London has a much better understanding of these expectations. "The British government understands that it would be good if no one becomes hostage to political processes, neither the citizens of the 27 EU member states nor the UK citizens living in the Continent," said the deputy foreign minister.

"Sometimes Poles living in the UK feel uncertain about their personal safety," added the deputy foreign minister. "It’s hard to blame the government for incidents of social or hooligan nature, which we also must address together," he stressed.

Source: PAP