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German foreign minister calls for Poland to take bigger EU role

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The German foreign minister Heiko Maas has said that Poland needs to take further responsibility in the EU’s future in the wake of Brexit, no matter what party is in power in Warsaw.

Speaking at a conference of German ambassadors on August 26, Mr Maas and his colleagues discussed how the EU will change course following Brexit. He argued that the EU cannot be solely rooted in German-French authority.

“The German-French tandem cannot replace the E3 group [Germany, France, the UK],” he said, suggesting that Europe is too big to be dominated by Germany and France, especially as “some look at our close cooperation with our French friends with distrust.”

He mentioned that Spain and Italy need to take up more responsibility for the Southern Mediterranean region, and Poland in the east. “We need to give a greater share of responsibility. And this cooperation needs to be pragmatic,” he said.

“I know this will not be easy. However, the fact that the current governments in Italy and Poland are taking a different course in European politics should not mean excluding them from responsibility. We are all responsible for something greater – the future of the European Union.”

Reform of the current EU structure is part of a broader post-Brexit plan, set to be launched during Germay’s 2020 EU presidency, that also includes a new rule of law control system that will encompass all EU member states. 

The call for Poland to take centre stage in the EU comes as the soft-eurosceptic ruling Law and Justice party continues to lead in polls ahead of the country’s October parliamentary election. The party nominated Krzysztof Szczerski, an adviser to the president, Andrzej Duda, as the country’s next EU commissioner, but Mr Szczerski has since withdrawn his candidacy citing his lack of knowledge in agriculture, the position that Poland was offered.