23rd Sep 2023

Glimmer of doubt over Polish ratification of Lisbon Treaty

A senior aide of Polish President Lech Kaczynski has indicated that he will delay signature of the Lisbon Treaty, amid calls from his party to use the pact for political leverage.

The president's chief of staff, Wladyslaw Stasiak, in an interview on Polish national radio on Monday (5 October) said Mr Kaczynski is in no hurry to sign.

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  • Lech Kaczynski (r) - his aides want him to use Lisbon for political advantage (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

He linked the ratification to Mr Kaczynski's proposals to give the Polish parliament oversight powers over the Polish government in its dealings with Brussels, along the lines of recent reforms in Germany.

"You should only make haste, as they used to say, when catching fleas," Mr Stasiak joked. "It worked out very well in Germany, and we've talked about this for a long time in Poland as well, so it would be worthwhile to do it."

A member of Mr Kaczynki's Law and Justice party, Zbigniew Girzynski, in a separate interview for Newsweek magazine said he should hold out for extra EU funds and a powerful European Commission portfolio for Poland.

"Let's squeeze as much as possible out of Brussels," he said.

The president's men had earlier promised he would sign in the next few days after Ireland's Yes vote, with Sweden keen to have Polish ratification in the bag ahead of its summit on EU institutional matters on 29 October.

"I believe the President takes his work more seriously than his aides do. It's his decision and in the end I think he will sign quite promptly," Poland's EU affairs minister, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, told EUobserver.

Poland is hoping to install economist and former centre-right MEP Janusz Lewandowski as the next EU budget commissioner.

But with the top two jobs envisaged in the Lisbon Treaty - the new EU president and EU foreign relations chief - out of its reach, it is also keen to demarcate the limits of the new officials' powers.

Mr Dowgielewicz said Poland has already drafted legal proposals on the subject, which it may circulate as early as next week. He declined to give details, but suggested that Warsaw is keen to clip their wings.

"It may be useful to have a consultation mechanism between the [new] council president, the prime minister of the rotating presidency and the European Commission president," he said.

"We have to recognise that the Polish minister of finance or agriculture will only take instructions from his prime minister. He will not take instructions from the president of the council."

Meanwhile, Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Monday faced extra pressure to put his name to the Lisbon Treaty after a SANEP poll said 53 percent of Czechs would vote Yes if they had a referendum on the pact.

British party sets out stall

The threat of a UK referendum also receded after the Conservatives said they would push for a public "consultation" on parts of the treaty instead of a total revote if the agreement is already in force when they come into power.

"It's certainly the case that you could put key parts of this treaty to the people and you could certainly find out what people thought about it," the Conservative Party's London mayor, Boris Johnson, told the BBC.

"We have gone past the stage of trying to turn the EU into something that it isn't. If we ask for British opt-outs, British derogations, on certain issues, I think there is quite a lot to be decided there," eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan told British radio.

The Conservative opt-out wish list includes EU social and employment law and justice and home affairs rules.

Correction: the quote about putting "key parts of this treaty" to a public vote, above, was originally attributed to Conservative leader David Cameron


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