May 1, 2019 / 7:04 AM / 4 months ago

Poland must stop treating EU as a money-making machine: Katainen

FILE PHOTO - European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen listens China's Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. Fred Dufour/Pool via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland should stop treating the European Union as a money-making machine and make a more substantial financial contribution in the future, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Wednesday.

He also said the EU’s Article 7 procedure, under which the bloc could sanction Poland over changes that Brussels says undermine the rule of law, had not yet had any impact on Warsaw’s behavior.

“The EU is not just a money machine, a cow that you can milk,” Katainen told journalists in Warsaw ahead of a summit of countries, mainly from Europe’s formerly Communist east, that have joined the EU since 2004. “We are expecting a more substantial contribution from Poland for the future of Europe.”

He said Poland’s “economic development has been remarkable” thanks to its membership of the bloc, through which it has received over 100 billion euros in EU funding.

But he said Poland had put itself in a weaker position within the bloc because of its conflict with the EU over the rule of law.

The Article 7 procedure could theoretically lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the EU, although Katainen acknowledged that the cumbersome process had so far drawn little response from Warsaw.

“The current situation is not good because we have had Article 7 procedure in Poland but unfortunately nothing has happened,” he said.

Katainen also said Poland is ready to join the euro zone, even though the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) has said it should only adopt the common currency when its economy is as big as Germany’s.

“Poland is a fiscally prudent country and it would benefit a lot from euro zone membership,” Katainen said.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Writing by Alicja Ptak and Joanna Plucinska, Editing by Catherine Evans

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