WARSAW, Poland (AP) - Britain's prime minister and Poland's leaders said Thursday that there is goodwill but no compromise yet between the two nations over British attempts to reform European Union welfare rules that could affect Polish migrant workers in the U.K.
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Britain's prime minister and Poland's leaders said Thursday that there is goodwill but no compromise yet between the two nations over British attempts to reform European Union welfare rules that could affect Polish migrant workers in the U.K.
David Cameron held talks late Wednesday and early Thursday with Polish leaders, seeking support for his package of EU reforms. Britain will hold a referendum by the end of 2017 to decide whether to leave the 28-nation bloc. Cameron wants to stay in if he can secure certain reforms.
For Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, it marked the first meeting with a foreign leader in Warsaw since she and her conservative government took power last month.
Before Cameron's arrival, Szydlo warned that Cameron's plans to cut welfare benefits to migrant workers, part of his larger EU reform agenda, was "unacceptable." But at a news conference Thursday, the tone between the two was friendly.
"We are looking for agreement," Cameron said. "We haven't achieved that agreement yet, but I think what you've heard from the prime minister here in Poland, as from other leaders, is that there's goodwill, there's wanting to keep Britain within a reformed European Union."
The two leaders stressed that they see eye-to-eye on much of Cameron's plan, including the need to cut bureaucracy within the EU and to strengthen national parliaments.
But Poland is putting up strong resistance to any idea that could limit the free movement of Poles within Europe and to any cuts in welfare benefits. Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, more than 2 million Poles have left the country to seek work abroad, most of them in Britain and Ireland.
The Polish government's position is that Poles work hard in the U.K., pay taxes and contribute to Britain's economic growth — and that any limitation of welfare benefits to them would be discriminatory.
"The free movement of people is a key point for Poland," Szydlo said.