Polish deputy PM Mateusz Morawiecki
In a remarkably frank intervention Mateusz Morawiecki painted a damning picture of the 19-country bloc and questioned Brussels’ repeated attempts to speed up further integration.
The euro is considered the jewel in the EU’s crown by federalist eurocrats, but in reality they have struggled to convince many of their own member states to adopt it.
And Mr Morawiecki was excoriating in his lack of support for the single currency, at one point seeming to pity countries inside the eurozone by saying Warsaw “wishes them well”.
Poland is technically obliged to sign up to the euro at some point in the future by the terms of its membership, as are all of the other 11 non-eurozone countries with the exception of Britain and Denmark.
But Warsaw has repeatedly stalled on joining the currency, much to the chagrin of some euro federalists, and the remarks by its second-in-command made it plain there is no chance it will be accepting it any time soon.
Speaking at the Brussels Economic Forum, Mr Morawiecki said: “Now there is this tendency towards deeper integration of the eurozone. The eurozone is not an optimum currency area, so it remains to be seen if eurozone is going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
“Now in capital cities of member states some people think the eurozone is part of the solution, but Britons really don’t think so and that’s why they case their votes a year ago.”
On the other eurozone members, he then added: “I wish them well but I’m not so sure that the eurozone will be so quickly a united eurozone, in terms of one budget with huge transfers of money from the north.”
Mr Morawiecki said such transfers of wealth were “easy” within countries – citing the example of Italy’s rich north subsidising its poor south – but doubted voters would tolerate their tax money crossing international borders.
And asked whether Poland would hold a referendum on joining the euro when the time came he was equally damning, saying it was unlikely because voters would reject the single currency.
He said: “We do not plan this. We are watching the situation in the eurozone, what is going to happen. We don’t envisage a referendum right now.
“It would be a very risky referendum because we don’t want to stir up a hornets’ nest and give the impression that if the Polish population is against the euro, and we have to adopt the euro at some point in the future because of the accession treaty, so we want to avoid this.”
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The deputy PM was also pressed on his views over freedom of movement, which has become an increasingly topical issue in Eastern Europe given the growing economic impact of the “brain drain” caused by emigration.
He defended Polish transport companies against a crackdown proposed by the EU Commission, saying other aspects of the single market had benefitted richer Western nations, but admitted he wanted more Poles to “come home”.
Asked about the issue of emigration to the UK, he said: “If you ask me if I want to have another one or two million people to get out of Poland, absolutely not. I wouldn’t like them to migrate I’d like them to come back to Poland.”
And on the future Brexit deal he insisted it was important Polish people already in the UK kept all their rights, but added: “I wouldn’t like to create any more incentives for people from Poland to migrate and in particular to settle permanently in the UK.”