Theresa May – 2018 Statement at the UK-Polish IGC

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at the UK-Poland inter-governmental conference on 20 December 2018.

It is a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Morawiecki to Lancaster House.

Our countries enjoy a broad, vibrant and diverse partnership underpinned by a shared history.

Next year, the UK and Poland will mark 100 years of renewed bilateral relations following the First World War.

We have stood shoulder to shoulder through the most significant moments of the past Century. That unique bond is at the heart of our close relationship today.

Since 2016, our consultations have succeeded in making us safer, more prosperous and more secure.

It is a partnership that works for both our nations, and will continue to deliver in the years ahead.

The UK and Poland are key strategic allies, and today agree ambitious steps that build on the landmark joint Defence and Security Co-operation treaty we signed, in Warsaw, last year.

Our armed forces will work side by side on regular joint training exercises, and will increase maritime co-operation in the Baltic Sea, including naval visits. We also agree to continue to work together on Ground Based Air Defence systems, demonstrating our close defence partnership.

Our security services will share expertise and intelligence to protect our people from serious organised crime, and prevent illegal activity across our borders.

On NATO, we agree reform is vital to ensure all allies deliver on their commitments as part of a strong, fully-supported Alliance that adapts to meet future threats. We continue to play our part with British troops currently deployed in Poland under Enhanced Forward Presence.

In sharing the same desire for a peaceful, stable Europe – we also recognise the same threats.

We are both deeply concerned at Russian attempts to undermine the international rules based system.

I want to thank you, Mateusz, both for the support you and your nation showed following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, and for your commitment to attributing cyber-attacks of the OPCW to the Russian GRU.

These actions are unacceptable. And we will not stand for them.

Today we resolve to defend our democracies through annual consultations on Russia’s hostile activity and closer collaboration between our defence and security services.

Discussions will begin early next year.

And we will also share our expertise to set up a new unit in Poland that directly counters Russian disinformation, and ensures quick attribution of hostile activity against state or commercial targets.

We will also maintain the momentum of the Western Balkans Summit, which we both attended here earlier this year. As we pass the baton from London to Poznan, such work is crucial to stability in the region.

Our trade relationship, worth almost £20 billion last year, is thriving and we both welcomed the success of the first UK-Poland Business, Trade and Investment Forum earlier this year.

Next year’s Forum will focus on solutions for clean and sustainable growth, one of the defining challenges of the 21st Century.

We both want to ensure a cleaner world for future generations, and the Clean Growth Partnership we’ve established today puts us at the forefront of the global shift towards cleaner energy sources such as nuclear, offshore wind and greener transport.

As two of the most innovative economies in Europe, we will pilot a vibrant tech hub to unite start-up companies with entrepreneurial talent in both our countries, boosting our economies, increasing investment and creating high-skilled jobs of the future.

And next September’s UK-Poland Science Forum will build on the strong links between our universities and research centres, with a focus on improving opportunities for women in STEM subjects.

It was a pleasure to meet members of the Polish community earlier today, and talk about the immense contribution they make to our economy and society.

Almost one million Poles make their lives in Britain – the largest diaspora in the UK.

A similar number of Brits visit Poland each year.

These personal stories are what I think of when talking about the bond between our countries. That is why securing the rights of Polish and other EU citizens was my priority in the Brexit negotiations.

The Withdrawal Agreement guarantees their rights to live, work and study in the UK after we leave the EU.

And earlier this month we set out our commitment to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK in the unlikely event of no deal.

My message to Polish people is clear. You can stay, and we want you to stay.

Or put another way…

Tak, na pewno możecie zostać [Trans: Yes, you can definitely stay.]

As we leave the EU, the relationship with our closest partners like Poland remains vital.

I have reiterated to Prime Minister Morawiecki that Britain will continue to work with Poland and other member states to protect our people, shared values and interests.

I am confident that this partnership will continue to flourish.