|Donald Tusk said Poland was the biggest winner in the 2014-2020 EU budget negotiations|
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The Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, has given its approval to the fiscal compact, an intergovernmental treaty introduced to discipline European governments in their public finances.
The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2013 for the 16 EU members who had already completed ratification. For subsequent ratifiers, it will enter into force on the first day of the month following the submission of ratification documents with Brussels. Twenty-five of the EU’s 27 countries have pledged to adopt the treaty.
Before the vote, Prime Minister Donald Tusk argued hard for the fiscal compact in parliament last week.
The PM said Poland had “won the financial battle for the next seven years like no other country in Europe” referring to the recently-agreed 2014-2020 EU budget from which Poland will receive a total of €105.8 billion, making it the biggest beneficiary in the EU.
“The positive budget for Poland is the effect of a long-term strategy which assumed, among other things, winning the support of European institutions for the cohesion policy,” said Mr Tusk.
He went on to say that “the fiscal compact implements standards in public finance that will protect the Polish taxpayer and the Polish state from excessive risk. It will be the next step on the road to a safe Europe.”
“I don’t think there is a convincing alternative idea for a safe Poland, an idea that would not involve a strong and safe European Union,” Mr Tusk added. In the 460-member Sejm, 282 MPs supported the treaty, enough to give it the simple majority it needed to pass.
Unsurprisingly, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), Poland’s largest opposition party, opposed ratification. Its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, contested the procedure by which it was voted on as well, saying the measure should require a two-thirds majority.
“We completely reject the claim that the fiscal compact does not affect Poland’s independence,” he said. “If it is to be accepted, then it should have to garner a constitutional two-thirds majority in parliament.”
Mr Kaczyński said if the vote was not conducted under those conditions, his party would treat it as if it had never taken place. Solidarna Polska, another conservative party, was also against the treaty.
Meanwhile, liberal opposition parties Palikot’s Movement and the Democratic Left Alliance, as well as the junior coalition partner, the Polish People’s Party, all voted to adopt the compact.
Leszek Miller, leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, said not joining the fiscal compact would “condemn our country to the role of peripheral country, stumbling about on the unpaved roads of Europe. If you don’t understand that then you don’t understand anything.”
The fiscal compact will not impose any binding regulations on Poland until it joins the euro zone and it is still not clear when that will happen. The treaty now needs to be approved by the Senate and then signed by the president, both of which are expected to happen without any difficulty.
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