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article imagePolish PM accuses Macron of pursuing 'protectionism' in EU

By AFP     Sep 6, 2017 in Politics

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on Wednesday accused French President Emmanuel Macron of "trying to introduce protectionism" amid their clash over his proposals to overhaul a controversial EU rule on sending workers abroad.

"It really worries me that the French president is currently undermining the pillars of the European Union and trying to introduce protectionism, striking at the free market and the circulation of people and services," Szydlo said on the TVP Info news channel Szydlo said on the TVP Info news channel.

"These are worrisome signals. I think now is the time when at least some of the EU's leaders must answer the question of whether unity is important to them... or whether some of these leaders want to divide the European Union."

Macron made overhauling the so-called Posted Workers Directive one of his key election promises, and is set to push for it at an EU summit on October 19-20.

The regulation lets companies send workers from low-wage countries like Poland to wealthier economies on short-term assignments without paying the host country's social charges.

The rule has caused resentment in western countries like France, Germany and Austria, which argue it amounts to "social dumping" that creates unfair competition on their labour markets.

But there has been staunch resistance in eastern and central Europe, where most of the less expensive workers come from. Poland is the EU member that benefits most from the regulation.

Addressing Warsaw's opposing views on the matter last month, Macron said Poland was "a country that has decided to go against European interests in many areas" and risks finding itself "on the margins" of the EU in the future.

Szydlo responded at the time by calling Macron's criticisms "arrogant", but on Tuesday she spoke of the possibility of a "compromise".

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