Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

Focus

Poland keen on economic post in EU commission

  • Sikorski (l) has been mentioned as a possible successor to Catherine Ashton (r) (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski may be a “natural candidate” for the EU’s head of diplomacy, but Warsaw is especially keen on getting a weighty economic dossier in the next European Commission.

Poland’s press made much of comments by PM Donald Tusk last week that the country has achieved “such significant influence” on European foreign policy that it is considering trying to get Sikorski to be the next EU foreign policy chief.

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However, Tusk also indicated that other dossiers are at least as important, particularly energy, a topic on which Warsaw has been a leading voice in recent months.

“We would like to get a post in a place, which is key from Poland’s point of view, but also from a European one. We are also thinking of energy or competition,” said Tusk.

Diplomatic sources say Warsaw values an economic portfolio in the new commission more than the prestigious but less important post of foreign policy chief.

However, the energy portfolio is likely to be out of Poland’s reach as the country’s pro-fracking, pro-coal stance is likely to be hard to swallow for many European capitals.

Some sources say that this portfolio could go to Britain, which would be acceptable for Poland as London is favourable to exploring shale gas.

Competition and internal market are also among the portfolios that Warsaw is eyeing.

Gazeta Wyborcza recently wrote that Warsaw sees itself as one of the main supporters of deepening trade inside the Union and removing bureaucratic barriers, especially in the area of services.

As for the people who should fill the posts, diplomats say: “portfolio first, candidates second”.

Several names are doing the rounds. Sikorski’s name has also been linked to the energy dossier. Other commissioner candidates include Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, a former PM and close adviser to Tusk, and Jacek Rostowski, a former finance minister.

However, the chances that Janusz Lewandowski – currently in charge of the EU’s budget – gets a second term are also growing.

Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO) won the European elections by a slight margin. It got 32 percent of votes, some 24,000 more votes than the right-wing opposition party, PiS.

The result once more prompted speculation Tusk will throw his own hat into the ring for the presidency of the EU commission.

But he has denied being interested in the post and said several times that he will lead the party into the 2015 parliamentary elections instead.

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