Polish PM says eastern EU members must be appreciated more

"We oppose centralisation," Morawiecki said, referring to the debate on whether the EU should progress with federalisation or remain a union of nation states. "We speak in favour of strong sovereign states that closely cooperate in business." Albert Zawada/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has stressed the importance of eastern EU members for the European economy and said they should not be "put in a corner" by big EU players.

The prime minister made the comment during a meeting with his Czech, Hungarian, Slovak and Slovenian counterparts held in Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on Friday.

"If we put our five countries together and compare our trade with Germany, then it's worth close to EUR 300 billion, far more than China, the United States, the Netherlands or France," Morawiecki said. "Our exports have increased by more than a dozen times over the past 25 years," he added.

"Today we know perfectly well that our place in the European market and in European politics is not in any corner," Morawiecki said.

"We don't want to be pushed into a corner, instead, we want to play together towards one goal, so that Europe becomes strategically stronger," the Polish prime minister added.

Morawiecki also complained that the younger EU members were being underestimated in the EU.

"Unfortunately, we often hear those voices that make us wonder whether we're only pawns on some European chessboard," Morawiecki said.

Poland and Hungary, and recently also Slovenia, have complained about what they see as excessive interference from Brussels in their affairs. The European Commission has launched a number of proceedings against Warsaw and Budapest owing to their justice, media and education overhauls as well as over what Brussels sees as attacks on minority rights.

"We oppose centralisation," Morawiecki said, referring to the debate on whether the EU should progress with federalisation or remain a union of nation states. "We speak in favour of strong sovereign states that closely cooperate in business."

Poland and Hungary have insisted the EU should not interfere with issues related to their internal affairs, such as culture and legislation. But the European Commission says a number of reforms in the conservative-minded countries have infringed upon common European values.