FILE PHOTO: Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo holds a news conference at the end of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
By Agnieszka Barteczko and Gabriela Baczynska
WARSAW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Poland's prime minister indicated on Thursday she might refuse to endorse a declaration to mark the European Union's 60th anniversary unless it addresses Warsaw's concerns, but diplomats played down the threat.
The EU wants to put on a show of unity at its meeting in Rome on Saturday following Britain's decision to leave the bloc. Britain is expected next week to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty launching the divorce negotiations.
As well as Poland, Greece has also threatened not to sign the Rome declaration on values shared by the EU unless it clearly protects labour rights.
"If the declaration does not include the issues which are priorities for Poland, we will not accept the declaration," Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told private broadcaster TVN.
"The unity of the European Union, defence of close NATO cooperation, strengthening the role of national governments and the rules of the common market which cannot divide but unite - these are the four priorities which have to be included in the declaration," she said.
But diplomats said Warsaw had already approved the draft text of the declaration earlier this week following some tweak and said Szydlo's comments appeared designed mainly for domestic consumption and to allow her to claim a diplomatic victory at the summit.
Warsaw is particularly opposed to a 'multi-speed Europe', an idea promoted by Germany, France and Brussels, among others, to help improve decision-making in the post-Brexit EU.
This would allow countries keen to deepen cooperation in specific areas to press ahead without waiting for the whole bloc. Poland and some other eastern EU countries fear they could end up as second-class members in a bloc moving increasingly at a pace set by the wealthier west European nations.
The sole sentence in the Rome declaration about this concept has been softened to accommodate Warsaw's concerns, meaning any last-minute veto is highly unlikely, diplomats said.
However, Greece was sticking with its reservations about the text on Thursday morning, diplomats in Brussels and two sources in Athens said.
Greece has made a link between agreeing to the Rome text and its separate talks on reforms that lenders are seeking from Athens in exchange for new loans.
One diplomat said the issue may now only be resolved when Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets the other EU leaders in Rome on Friday.
(Additional reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Lidia Kelly in Warsaw, Rene Maltezou in Athens; Editing by Gareth Jones)