NEWS RELEASE: Poland a ‘vibrant, modern and confident European country’ says Foreign Secretary in letter to Labour MPs

July 7, 2009

Labour Members of Parliament with large numbers of Polish constituents this week received a personal letter from Foreign Secretary David Miliband with details of his recent official visit to Poland.

Labour Friends of Poland is pleased to reproduce the letter here:

July 2009

I am writing to you as a Member with a large Polish community within your constituency to update you on a visit I made to Poland in June, which I hope will be of interest to you and your constituents. 

Alongside meeting Polish Government representatives, I visited the OHEL exhibition at the Museum of History of Polish Jews and met with NGOs and community leaders to discuss multiculturalism in Poland.  As one of the million Britons with Polish blood, I was excited to see Poland as a vibrant, modern and confident European country.

After a history that stretches from King Canute to the two hundred thousand Polish soldiers, air men and naval personnel who fought on the Allied side in the Second World War, the UK and Poland today stand as partners within the European Union.  During my visit, and in a speech in Warsaw, I aimed to make the case that the EU, as it did after the Second World War and the Cold War, must again adapt to the changing geopolitical context we face.

The unquestionable insecurities and inequalities of today’s globalised economy will require a different kind of globalisation, where political institutions are able to establish the rules of the game that protect public interest.  To achieve this, the two great projects of the European Union’s past – the single market and enlargement – need to be protected and extended.  Europe needs, for example, an agreed rule book for financial regulation and greater cooperation on supervision to ensure we keep pace with the increased dynamism of international capital markets.  Furthermore, the EU must continue to spread democracy through enlargement, stabilising areas as it has done in Eastern Europe and as we hope it will in the Balkans. Stability comes from the very fact that countries are prepared to undergo the reforms necessary to be part of the single market.

To strengthen Europe we also need deeper integration of energy policy. The EU is becoming increasingly dependent on imports from unstable or unreliable regions, while global demand for energy is predicted to rise by 45%.  This requires regulation to make our homes and industries more efficient; greater diversity of our energy supplies, including new energy sources but also nuclear power; the electrification of our economies; and more solidarity between Member States through fully liberalised, transparent and integrated energy markets.

The key question for all Europeans is whether we want to be players or spectators in the new world order. To me the answer is obvious. There is enormous demand for the EU to play a greater role in global affairs. In the last year alone we have intervened to stabilise the crisis in Georgia; engaged with both the Ukrainians and the Russians to help resolve their dispute over gas; agreed bold and ambitious climate change targets; shaped a clear offer of engagement with Iran in support of a new US policy; despatched a naval mission to the Somali Coast to reduce the threat from Piracy; and stepped up our effort in Afghanistan with more police and more money.

To take this forward we face choices over finding and then prioritising the necessary resources necessary. We also need to cooperate effectively across cultural and political divides and get better at formulating genuine strategic responses to difficult policy questions, whether preventing nuclear proliferation, tackling climate change or deciding how best to influence and support the search for peace between Israel and Palestine. I am convinced that this can be achieved and that an active EU role is no longer a choice to be made.

These are key challenges that I see lying before the EU and it is critical that we, as MPs with European communities within our constituencies, communicate both the UK Government’s policy positions and underline that European co-operation is central to our political principles and objectives.

It is essential that we make the case for Europe passionately and consistently, both because a strong Britain at the heart of a strong EU is the only means by which we can make the progressive change we seek, and because the isolationist and Eurosceptic position of the Conservatives is a major strategic weakness which exposes them as perpetuators of their Thatcherite past and fundamentally undermines their ability to achieve their ambitions.  This significant difference between the parties and Labour’s committed Europeanism will, I hope, become a central element of our campaign for a fourth term and a defining characteristic of our dialogue with our constituents.

Poland’s voice heard will be heard increasingly in Europe with Polish representatives now making up the fourth largest contingent in the European People’s Party and the Polish economy this year being the seventh largest in Europe. I very much hope that Labour’s voice can be increasingly heard amongst Polish communities in the UK through a meaningful and ongoing conversation.

If you would like any further information on my work as it relates to Poland please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office.

Best wishes,

Rt Hon David Miliband MP



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