VARNA: French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday triggered a furious reaction from Poland after he attacked Warsaw for rejecting tough proposals to overhaul a controversial EU rule on cheap labour.

“Poland today is not a country that can show Europe the way, it’s a country that has decided to go against European interests in many areas,” Macron told a press conference in the coastal city of Varna in Bulgaria.

“Europe was built on public freedoms that Poland violates... It is placing itself on the margins of Europe’s future history,” said the centrist president who took office in May. His remarks drew the ire of Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo.

“Perhaps (Macron’s) arrogant comments result from lack of political experience, which I can understand, but I expect that he will make up for this shortcoming and will be more restrained in the future,” she told the right-wing wPolityce.pl news website on Friday.

The spat erupted on Macron’s final day of a short tour through Austria, Romania and Bulgaria, as he seeks to win support for changing the so-called Posted Workers Directive at an EU summit on October 19-20.

The regulation lets firms send workers from low-wage countries to wealthier economies on short-term assignments without paying their hosts’ social charges.

The rule has caused resentment in western countries like France, Germany and Austria, which argue it amounts to “social dumping” and creates unfair competition on national labour markets.

Backed by Berlin and Vienna, Paris wants the duration of the postings to be limited to 12 months — half the period proposed by the European Commission — and demands greater efforts to fight abuse of the directive.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2017