Speech: PM meeting with Prime Minister Beata Szydło of Poland: 28 November 2016

MoD_RSS

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Prime Minister Theresa May said:


I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister Szydło to Downing Street this afternoon and to offer the same warm hospitality as I received during my visit to Warsaw in July.

The relationship between Poland and the United Kingdom is important for both the prosperity and the security of our countries. And as the UK leaves the EU, I am determined to strengthen this partnership.

That is why we have held the first summit of its kind between our 2 countries today. It has been an opportunity to discuss how we can deepen our bilateral co-operation, to address shared security threats and to update the Prime Minister on the UK’s preparations for Brexit.

Let me say a few words on each.

Bilateral relationship


First, our bilateral relationship.

The UK and Poland have been close allies in the EU and we plan to be even closer allies once the UK has left.

Poland is our leading trading partner in Central Europe – with bilateral trade worth £15 billion last year and UK exports to Poland doubling over the last decade.

Today, we have agreed to build on that solid basis of economic co-operation, with new initiatives to support small businesses. For example, our governments will bring together UK and Polish entrepreneurs to help them grow their companies by sharing best practice and expertise on areas such as regulation, technology and innovation.

We will also showcase our first-rate science and research collaboration with a partnership between Oxford University and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw to establish an academic centre of excellence in the field of cyber security.

We also want to strengthen ties between the people of Poland and the United Kingdom.

Just now, we welcomed members of the Polish community here to Downing Street and paid tribute to the significant contribution they make to our nation - from business to medicine, academia to the arts.

And we will go further by establishing a forum to bring together people from both our countries to celebrate and expand our close relationship, our shared values and our history – with the inaugural meeting set to take place in Warsaw next year.

Defence and security


We have also discussed how we can work together to keep our people safe.

As 2 leading players in NATO, we are both firmly committed to its role in providing security not just for our allies in Europe but around the world – whether that is helping to stop smugglers trafficking people across the Aegean or training Afghan forces so that they can prevent their country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists once again.

Today, we’ve talked about how we can deter Russian aggression by reinforcing Europe’s eastern flank. Following on from the commitment the United Kingdom made at the Warsaw summit in July to increase the number of troops deployed in Europe, I can today set out plans to deploy 150 troops from the Light Dragoons regiment in Catterick, as well as a number of armoured vehicles, to north-east Poland in April 2017.

We have also agreed to continue to work together to secure peace and stability in Ukraine and we both remain committed to maintaining sanctions on Russia until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented.

We have also discussed how we can step up our co-operation to respond to new and emerging threats, with increased collaboration between our law enforcement agencies to disrupt serious and organised crime and to combat modern slavery.

Looking to the future, we have agreed to work towards the first UK-Poland bilateral defence treaty and to strengthen ties between our defence industries, particularly through joint work on research and development, production and procurement.

Brexit


Finally, I have updated the Prime Minister and her team on the work we are doing on Brexit.

Since we last met in July, the UK has made significant progress to prepare for the negotiations and I will trigger Article 50 before the end of March next year.

I have also reiterated my plan to guarantee the rights of Poles – and other Europeans - currently living in the UK so long as the rights of British citizens living across the EU are guaranteed. And I hope we can reach an early agreement on this issue, providing certainty for Polish citizens here and British people living in Europe.

Conclusion


So, this has been an excellent summit.

We are 2 leaders determined to make the most of the relationship between our countries.

I firmly believe that if we all approach Brexit in the same constructive and positive manner, then we can secure the right outcome for the United Kingdom and for our European neighbours too.

And as we embark on that new chapter, I look forward to further strengthening the relationship between the United Kingdom and Poland – two resolute and strategic allies working together for the benefit of both our countries.

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