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The EU27 are currently embroiled in a crisis after Poland and Hungary vetoed the bloc’s £980billion (€1.1trillion) seven-year budget, as well as the £671bn (€750bn) coronavirus recovery fund. Despite the infighting, Mr Verhofstadt has hailed the strength of the bloc and highlighted a poll which suggested eight-out-of-ten Polish nationals want to remain in the EU.
In a post on Twitter, the arch-Europhile referenced a telephone survey conducted by Kantar which found 87 percent of people in Poland want to stay as a member state.
Mr Verhofstadt wrote: “Agree. 87 percent of Polish people want to stay in EU 5 percent don’t.
“Support for the populist government coalition plummeted — to 27 percent, neck-and-neck with the liberal and pro-Brussels opposition.”
“While it’s true the EU holds all the cards, it’s now necessary to play them right.”
The post from the Belgian MEP triggered a furious response from a number of users on the platform who called on Mr Verhofstadt to put his claims to the test and hand Poland a referendum on EU membership.
The EU chief was warned the numbers would be much different if an in-or-out vote took place and was reminded of the Brexit referendum result in 2016.
In response to Mr Verhofstadt, one user said: “You should call for Poland to have a referendum! Leave or remain in the EU.”
A second added: “I bet if they have a referendum to leave you’ll see a different percentage to leave.”
A third commented: “How did the polling work out for you in GB?”
Meanwhile, a fourth added: “The cracks are appearing Guy. Trying to place more power in Brussels is the wrong approach.
“The fall of the EU gets ever closer as they continue to follow the wrong path. So glad to be wishing a bon voyage and not be on the sinking ship.”
Questions over Poland’s future membership have surfaced in recent weeks in the wake of the financial dispute.
Last week, the pro-Government weekly newspaper Do Rzeczy ran with a front-page splash which read: “Polexit-we have the right to talk about it.”
Another poll by Kantas found 49 percent of people agreed that the current policies of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party could lead to an exit from the EU.
Warsaw and Budapest have refused to support the entire financial plan, even though they are beneficiaries, as the funds are conditional on respecting the rule of law.
The two countries remain under EU investigation for undermining the independence of courts, media and non-governmental organisations and with the condition in place they risk losing access billions of pounds.
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The Prime Ministers of Poland and Hungary held talks on Monday and reiterated they remain open to new proposals.
Following the talks, a Polish Government spokesman said: “We’re open to new proposals and we are convinced an agreement can be reached, but we stress that it has to be compliant with EU treaties and conclusions from the European Council meeting in July.”
EU leaders will hold a summit on December 10.
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