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The Latest: Poland slams comments by French leader Macron

Posted August 25

— The Latest on French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to central and eastern Europe (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Poland's deputy foreign minister has summoned a French diplomat and expressed "indignation" over French President Emmanuel Macron's criticism of Poland's government.

During a visit to Bulgaria on Friday, Macron sharply criticized Warsaw over its opposition to hosting migrants and to his plans to reform EU rules under which companies can temporarily post employees in wealthier EU member states at cheaper wages. Macron said Poland was isolating itself from Europe and from its values of democracy and freedom.

The Foreign Ministry said the French charge d'affaires was summoned by Deputy Minister Marek Magierowski who expressed the government's "indignation following the arrogant words" by Macron.

Magierowski stressed that, just like France, Poland is a full EU member and will protect its interests and citizens.

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7:40 p.m.

A senior official in the French president's office is stressing that Emmanuel Macron was criticizing the Polish government and not targeting the country's people as he assailed Warsaw's failure to comply with major European principles.

The official, who was not allowed to speak publicly on the issue, noted that Macron said Friday he will continue to work with all EU member states, including Poland, and said the president had been answering a specific question about previous remarks by Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on the issue of "posted workers" — cheap labor from eastern countries posted temporarily to more prosperous European nations.

Szydlo said on Thursday that her government would defend "Poland's interests and Poland's workers." She and other Polish officials responded sharply to Macron's comments in Bulgaria Friday.

— By Sylvie Corbet

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5:40 p.m.

Poland's prime minister is dismissing as arrogant French President Emmanuel Macron's criticism of her government over its position on the reform of European Union labor rules, and accusing France of trying to "take apart one of the pillars of the EU."

During a visit to Bulgaria Friday, Macron sharply criticized Warsaw over its opposition to his plans to reform rules under which companies can temporarily post employees in wealthier EU member states at cheaper wages. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told the wPolitice website Friday that Macron's words were "arrogant," advising him to be "more restrained" and "mind the business of his own country."

She said that "the future of Europe will not be decided by the president of France, or by any other individual leader but jointly, by all the member states."

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4:20 p.m.

Poland's foreign minister has rejected criticism of the country by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said that "Poland has decided to isolate itself from Europe."

Witold Waszczykowski pointed to the current visit to Poland by NATO's secretary-general and Romanian and Turkish top diplomats as proof that the country wasn't cut off.

Macron sharply criticized Poland's government on Friday over its opposition to his plans to reform the rules for posting workers in the European Union, when companies temporarily post employees in wealthier EU member states at cheaper wages.

He said described it as an "illustration of the mistakes made by" Poland's government.

Waszczykowski responded by saying the ongoing visits by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and by Romanian and Turkish foreign ministers was proof that "Poland is not isolated."

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4 p.m.

Bulgaria's prime minister says he regrets divisions that have emerged in the European Union over "posted workers," when companies temporarily post employees in wealthier EU member states at cheaper wages.

Poland and Hungary are reluctant to reform current EU labor rules while French President Emanuel Macron is pressing for change, as they are perceived as pricing out local workers in Western Europe, putting downward pressure on wages and exacerbating inequalities in wealth.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said after talks with Macron that "Poland and Hungary are our friends and it is fatal that there is such confrontation in the European Union."

Borisov said officials would discuss the issue with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo when she visits in September. He said Bulgaria wanted a solution before it takes over the rotating presidency of the EU on Jan. 1, 2018.

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2:35 p.m.

Bulgaria's president says it's important not to violate the European Union's basic principle of free movement as the bloc considers changing rules on "posted workers," when companies temporarily post employees in wealthier EU member states at cheaper wages.

President Rumen Radev said after discussing the issue with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Friday that new rules should seek a balance between older and newer EU members. Bulgaria, which joined the 28-nation bloc in 2007, is one of the newest members.

However, Radev said he shared Macron's "anguish about social dumping." He added that "Bulgaria is against all social security fraud."

There are estimated to be a few thousand Bulgarian workers seconded to other member states working in construction, trucking and shipbuilding.

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1:55 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has sharply criticized Poland's government over its opposition to his plans to change European Union rules on posted "workers," when companies temporarily post employees in wealthier EU member states at cheaper wages.

Macron said during a visit to Bulgaria on Friday that the Polish reluctance to reform the labor rules is "an illustration of the mistakes made by this government."

Macron said that "Poland has decided to isolate itself from Europe and its refusal to revise this directive doesn't give change my confidence in (getting) a positive outcome." He said that Poles "deserved better"

Poland's Premier Beata Szydlo said Thursday her government would defend "Poland's interests and Poland's workers, but added that "all member states are putting their heads together" over the issue.

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10:55 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived at a French-style palace on the Black Sea coast for talks with Bulgarian leaders on the final leg of his three-day tour to central and eastern Europe.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev greeted Macron and his wife Brigitte for Friday's opening ceremony.

The setting for the discussions, which will focus on business, investment and Europe's passport-free Schengen zone that Bulgaria wants to join, is a 19th-century former summer royal palace north of Varna. The communist elite used to use the palace which is now host to high-level government meetings.

Bulgaria also wants to join the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international body of nations that seeks to promote policies to economic growth and social well-being.

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