11th Aug 2022

Two-headed Poland in EU summit farce

An ugly row over who should represent Poland at Wednesday's (15 October) EU summit has ended with both Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Lech Kaczynski coming to Brussels, without a decision on who will lead the delegation or take part in top-level meetings.

Mr Tusk, foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski and finance minister Jacek Rostwoski will fly to the EU capital on Tuesday evening on Poland's "Air Force One" - a Tupolev TU-154M - carrying official summit accreditation and Poland's negotiation mandate for the EU talks.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • President Kaczynski at a Polish folk gathering - wants to advise in the EU corridors (Photo:

With just three golden ID badges available for entry into the EU summit chamber and two chairs at the top table itself, the prime minister has said he wants his men beside him for the main discussions - on the financial crisis and CO2 emission cut plans.

"On this I will not compromise, because it's about bigger issues than a dispute between politicians," the prime minister said on TV, after last-ditch talks in Warsaw on Monday night in which Mr Tusk and Mr Kaczynski reportedly called each by the Polish polite form "Mr" - a sarcastic way of indicating dislike.

The Tupolev will then turn around and pick up Mr Kaczynski's team on Wednesday morning, with presidential aides saying their boss - from the opposition Law and Justice party - will advise the prime minister in the EU corridors and take over the chair in any talks on Georgia or the Lisbon treaty.

"The prime minister wants to decide when the president can fulfil his obligations and to become his superior," the president's top advisor, Piotr Kownacki, told the Dziennik newspaper. "[We've] asked to be given the negotiating mandate, that is, which position the president should take in the talks."

Another presidential aide, Andrzej Duda, on Monday published a legal note explaining that President Kaczynski is the head of the Polish delegation under the country's constitution and that Mr Tusk is breaking the law by trying to shut him out.

Polish EU summit confusion began under the former government led by Lech Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, when the pair used to send Lech to Brussels while Jaroslaw negotiated with EU leaders by phone from Warsaw.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tusk's side is in despair over the president's apparent poor grasp of the summit agenda and the harm done to Poland's image.

"On the subject of the Lisbon treaty, we can expect a brief presentation from the Irish side, on why the referendum had a negative result. No debate is foreseen. I expect this can be wrapped up in seven-and-a-half to 15 minutes," Polish Europe minister Mikolaj Dowgielewicz told PAP.

"We are very far advanced in terms of conclusions on [Georgia] ... so I don't expect a leaders' discussion on this," he added, with the subject to be handled at an EU foreign ministers' dinner instead.

"Mr President, I kneel before you. Please let this go, please don't come [to Brussels] and don't weaken the negotiating position of our country," Polish foreign minister Mr Sikorski told national radio on Monday.

"I don't even want to imagine, the comments we'll get about this," he later told Polish TV.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.


Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.


Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us