Brussels criticises Central Europe due to competition - Polish PM

The reprimands that Brussels has been addressing to Central Europe are motivated by the West's concerns about the growing competitiveness of the region, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said at an international forum in Slovenia on Monday.

The Polish prime minister was among seven other heads of government taking part in a panel discussion accompanying the 15th Bled Strategic Forum, an international conference held in Slovenia's north-western town of Bled on Monday.

The prime ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Serbia discussed the future of Europe after Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

"As regards democracy, Central Europe is taking the blame as it's developing and we're becoming more competitive," the Polish PM said, adding that the criticism comes from Brussels and some European capitals.

Morawiecki called upon the EU to fully observe the principle of the free movement of services, a cornerstone of EU integration, as he accused Brussels of favouring the West by curbing Central Europe's competitive advantage in services. To support his words, he quoted the recent mobility and posted workers regulations that, according to him, undermine the competitiveness of Polish road hauliers.

The Polish head of government said that Central Europe has its own problems which are different from the rest of Europe, but at the same time shows solidarity with the rest of the EU.

Czech PM Andrej Babis said that the EU needs to clear up its relations with the US and China and Poland, as Washington's main partner has the potential to sponsor a trade deal between the EU and the US.

Speaking about the coronavirus pandemic, Morawiecki said that "sovereign states played their role, and the EU played its." He praised Central European governments for what he called a swift reaction to the crisis which then facilitated an EU-level response.

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