Polish minister steps out of race for EU foreign affairs job
14.10.10 @ 09:31
BRUSSELS - Poland's junior minister for EU affairs, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, has pulled out of the competition to become one of Catherine Ashton's top deputies.
The news was broken by Polish press agency PAP on Wednesday (13 October) citing "senior diplomatic sources."
Mr Dowgielewicz is said to have stepped aside in order to boost the chances of another Polish candidate, Maciej Popowski, to get the post of deputy secretary general in the European External Action Service (EEAS) and to concentrate on running the Polish EU presidency in late 2011.
"Firstly, he placed the chances of a Polish candidacy above his own ambitions and secondly, considering the responsibilities assigned to him, he wants to successfully oversee the organisation of the EU presidency," Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski said at a press event on Wednesday, PAP reports.
Mr Dowgielewicz had the personal backing of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk for his EEAS bid. The 37-year-old College of Europe alumnus had worked for former EU Parliament chief Pat Cox and former EU commissioner Margot Wallstrom before going to the Polish foreign ministry.
Mr Popowski currently works as head of cabinet for EU Parliament President Jerzy Buzek. The 46-year-old career diplomat took part in Poland's EU entry talks and was Poland's first ambassador to the EU Council's Political and Security Committee. He joined the European Commission as a director in its development department in 2008 before moving to the EU assembly last year. He speaks Dutch, English, French, German and some Russian.
Mr Popowski is considered more of a heavyweight in Brussels due to his age and experience. He also ticks the box of being an EU official amid MEPs' demands that EEAS top jobs should be split between member states and EU civil servants to make sure the corps has a strong "communitarian" element.
EEAS chief Ms Ashton is expected to announce another tranche of senior appointments following a European Parliament vote on EEAS budget and staff regulations next week.
MEPs in the legal affairs committee will on 18 October decide whether or not to insert a clause on "indicative recruitment targets" in the staff regulations.
The idea has strong support from the foreign affairs committee and envisages employing set numbers of EEAS candidates from 'new' EU states over the next 10 years in order to redress the fact that people from 'old' EU members will hold the vast majority of senior posts in the beginning.
Ms Ashton is said to dislike the proposal, however.
"This could kill the service," a senior EU official said, envisaging a scenario in which the EEAS has to employ weak candidates from the new EU countries instead of better people from the older members in order to comply with rules.