Friday

19th Apr 2019

Poland sees praise for EU presidency in turbulent times

  • Warsaw did well holding the fort, EU leaders say (Photo: metaphox)

EU politicians praised Poland on Wednesday (14 December) for the way it has handled the six-month rotating presidency during what is considered the biggest crisis in European Union history.

“The Polish presidency was without a doubt one of the very best presidencies we have had,” German MEP Martin Schultz, leader of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats, told conservative Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Schultz praised Tusk and his cabinet for the “high level of professionalism” during the six-month period that saw an ever worsening eurozone debt crisis, and, last week, a highly controversial decision to forge ahead with an intergovernmental treaty with only Britain refusing to take part.

“I cannot say that at the end of 2011, Europe is more united than six months ago,” said Tusk.

He refused to blame anybody for the current state of affairs, but did say that “too many politicians want to convince us that the way to exit from the crisis is a departure from communitarian actions.”

“You are discharged from your duties with honour,” said Swedish MEP Olle Schmidt, speaking on behalf of the liberal group in the parliament. “I salute you, Mr Tusk.”

Praise also came from the European Commission, whose president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said: “Poland demonstrated extraordinary capacity [during] probably the most difficult period since the European integration started.”

Yet for all the backslapping, EU leaders also seemed relieved that despite difficulties, the first-ever Polish presidency did not present any major organisational problems.

“Poland has shown that it is not a country that is badly organised,” said Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament, and a Polish national.

Much of Warsaw's diplomacy went into ensuring that the 10 non-euro countries, of which Poland is one, were not shut of decisions related to the single currency but which could affect them.

Traditionally, the EU’s rotating presidency presents an opportunity for the holding member state to show its best as it finds itself in the limelight for half a year, presiding over meetings of ministers and, with a bit of luck, closing important dossiers.

No such luck for Poland, however, whose achievements were overshadowed by the eurozone crisis, with the French and German leaders stealing most of the attention.

The Polish presidency oversaw the coming into force of a package of measures for stronger economic governance, the so-called six-pack, and the signing of the accession treaty with Croatia.

It did not, however, manage to see through the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the border-free Schengen area due to the continuing veto by the Netherlands - a position Tusk and Barroso both qualified as “unfair.”

The Polish presidency may yet be most favourably remembered for the passionate speech by Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski delivered in Berlin in November, in which he urged German chancellor Angela Merkel to act in the interest of the whole continent saying that her country had “a special responsibility.”

Environmental groups, however, are likely to remember the Polish presidency for the “shameful” role it played in negotiating the climate deal in Durban, according to Bas Eickhout, Dutch Green MEP, who accuses the presidency of pursuing a national agenda, trying to retain as much carbon emission rights as possible.

“I salute the way you dealt with the euro crisis,” he said, “but I’m afraid you have failed on climate policy.”

Focus

A short guide to the Polish presidency

With Poland taking over the presidency of the European Union on 1 July, EUobserver presents a short non-exhaustive guide: Defence, the Eastern Partnership, and the Single Market Act are all on the agenda.

Lobby register transparency talks collapse

Efforts to set up a better transparency register for lobbyists have collapsed after two years of talks. The impasse revolves around the European Commission's insistence that the register also become mandatory for the European Parliament and Council.

Exclusive

EU bodies dodge questions on secret VW loan report

The European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have refused to answer detailed questions about the demand from the European Ombudsman to publish an Olaf report on a €400m EIB loan Volkswagen Group (VW) received through deception.

Exclusive

EIB 'maladministration' verdict over VW fraud report

EUobserver should have been granted access to a fraud investigation into a €400m EU loan to Volkswagen Group (VW), and recommendations on how to avoid future misuse, the European Ombudsman has concluded.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us