EU leaders ignore bloc's major problems says Polish minister

On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, delivered her State of the European Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Julien Warnand/PAP/EPA

Poland's Europe minister has said EU leaders are reluctant to see the big problems plaguing the bloc.

On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, delivered her State of the European Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

She spoke about "deepening integration" and enlargement of the bloc to ensure "geopolitical weight and the capacity to act."

Von der Leyen also touched upon the issue of migration, saying that it needs to be "managed", which in her opinion requires perseverance and patient work with key partners, and requires unity in the European Union.

"When we took office, there seemed to be no possible compromise (on migration - PAP) in sight,” she said. “But with the (Migration - PAP) Pact, we are striking a new balance. Between protecting borders and protecting people. Between sovereignty and solidarity. Between security and humanity."

The Polish government has become a vocal opponent of the Migration Pact, which could see countries having to take in quotas of migrants. It has made the issue one of the questions on a referendum the it intends to hold on the same day as the general election, October 15.

Reacting to the speech, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, Poland's minister of European affairs, told state-owned broadcaster TVP Info on Wednesday: "I am convinced that there is a certain reluctance on the part of European leaders and European institutions to notice the problems that plague the EU today. There is no doubt that migration issues are a big problem today troubling many Western EU countries."

The migration "problems," he added, are "due to mistakes made in the past by the governments of these countries, but also by European institutions."

He said that as Poland hosts numerous refugees from Ukraine it does not need "immigrants who would like to get into Poland illegally, without any control."

But Szynkowski vel Sęk added that seasonal workers are different. This could be regarded as an apparent reference to accusations by the opposition that the government is being hypocritical when it comes to migration because it opposes the pact but is happy to allow thousands of foreigners to find work in Poland.

He argued that the opposition was trying to use this topic in the election campaign "by saying that there is huge migration here."

"These are seasonal workers that companies need, who come forward, and as unemployment is at a record low in Poland... people are needed to work," said Szynkowski vel Sęk.

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