Poland opting out of EU rights charter: foreign minister

[JURIST] Poland will not join the European Charter of Fundamental Rights [European Parliament materials], instead opting for the same exemption clause that allowed the UK to reject the charter [Sky report] this summer, said Polish foreign minister Ana Fotyga Friday during a meeting on the EU's new Reform Treaty [materials, in French]. Poland has objected to the draft charter for its supposed liberal stance on "moral issues," but powerful trade unions have long pushed for the charter's acceptance, citing its social rights guarantees. Poland has also broken ranks with other EU member states over the interpretation of the so-called Ioannina mechanism, by which a country can delay an EU initiative if it feels its vital interests will be affected. Most other countries see the mechanism as something to be invoked only once per issue, but Poland interprets it as something that can be used repeatedly until a more desirable agreement is reached.

The Reform Treaty, essentially a cut-down version of the stalled European constitution [JURIST news archive], has generated much debate between EU members. At the end of June, Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski [official profile] sought to reopen debate on the proposal by insisting on a different interpretation [JURIST report] of the reform agreement [JURIST report] reached by EU leaders, threatening to derail the process. EUobserver has more.

 

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