France, Poland try to patch things up after fights

French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo sought to repair ties after squabbles over a range of issues

French President Emmanuel Macron and Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo sought to repair ties Thursday after squabbles over everything from EU regulation to a statue of pope John Paul II.

The two leaders struck a conciliatory tone after talks in Paris, with rightwinger Szydlo inviting centrist Macron to visit next year to mark 100 years of Polish independence.

"We cannot ignore the fact that since I became president six months ago this relationship has probably not been at its strongest or most positive," Macron told a joint press conference.

But he said there was "a willingness to move forward" on both sides, while Szydlo called the pair's first ever bilateral talks "good and necessary".

The meeting follows multiple spats since Macron came to power in May, most recently over the French president's push to overhaul EU rules on sending workers abroad which benefit Polish workers.

Led by France, richer countries say the Posted Workers Directive, under which taxes and social charges are paid at home, exposes their citizens to unfair cheaper Eastern European competition.

In October Macron secured a compromise 18-month time limit on such contracts, but the vast trucking industry was exempted under pressure from Warsaw.

Macron admitted the issue remained "a subject of disagreement".

But elsewhere he eased off on criticism of Warsaw over its controversial court reforms.

Having previously branded Poland "a country that has decided to go against European interests", on Wednesday he stressed that EU countries do not need to judge each others' reforms.

Paris is awaiting the EU's verdict on whether Warsaw's plans breach the rule of law, he said.

The two countries have been at odds since 2016, when Szydlo's government cancelled a multi-billion euro contract for 50 military helicopters from France-based aeronautics giant Airbus.

Since then Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the governing PiS party, has dismissed Macron as "a celebrity politician" and Szydlo has offered to take in a statue at the centre of a ruckus in France.

A court ruling last month saw a French town ordered to take down a cross hanging over a statue of the late John Paul II under strict secularism laws, sparking anger in his native Poland.

Tens of thousands in the staunchly Catholic country signed online petitions against the ruling, which Szydlo said was evidence of "the dictate of political correctness".