Friday

10th Apr 2020

Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again

  • Beata Szydlo (r) is struggling to become chair of the employment committee at the EU parliament (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

Poland's populist and former prime minister Beata Szydlo failed to muster enough support in her second bid to chair a European Parliament committee.

The blow, delivered in Strasbourg on Monday (15 July) by MEPs on the employment committee, comes amid a larger, behind-the-scenes struggle for the European Commission top job.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

With 34 votes against and 19 in support, ending with a decision to postpone the vote once again and to do it a third time, Szydlo claimed she had a better respect for values than many others represented in the committee.

"I think I am one of the few people in this room for whom European values are an extreme and utter importance," she said.

To a round of applause from her conservative and centre-right supporters, Szydlo said her loss was a demonstration that European values were not being respected.

But as the vice-chair of Poland's right wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, Szydlo has struck a difficult chord among the more pro-EU political group factions.

PiS has led a campaign to undermine the independence of its country's judiciary and a broader assault against rule of law, according to a report earlier this month by Amnesty International.

The report followed a December 2017 decision by the European Commission to launch a so-called Article 7 procedure, where ministers assess whether Poland breached fundamental values laid down in the EU treaty.

"We can't vote for a non-democratic candidate," said German Green MEP Katrin Langensiepen in a tweet following the committee vote.

Romania's former minister of labour, a socialist MEP called Dragos Pislaru, made similar comments.

"For us, values are non-negotiable," he said, also in a tweet.

The Szydlo debacle came ahead of a plenary EP vote on whether to endorse Ursula von der Leyen, a German centre-right candidate, for the European Commission presidency in a vote on Tuesday.

Von der Leyen might need ECR votes to scrape through if enough socialists and liberals vote against her or abstain.

But the ECR has made its support for von der Leyen conditional on getting the main groups to back Szydlo for the committee role.

Szydlo was nominated for the chair by the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) political group, representing 62 MEPs.

"We are talking about a person who has done a lot of work in her own country," said the co-president of the ECR group, noting she had obtained almost a half million votes in Poland.

A spokesperson for the group told this website that the ECR will now meet on Tuesday after a plenary debate with the European Commission president designate to determine next steps.

Szydlo is the sole candidate for the employment chair. She had also lost a previous vote last week for the same post.

Orban ally's bid to chair EP committee in trouble

Former communication chief of the Hungary's Fidesz party, Balazs Hidvegi, wants a senior spot on the European Parliament committee working on migration and law. His nomination was delayed following a surprise decision by the centre-right EPP group.

Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post

European Commission presidential-hopeful Ursula von Der Leyen delivered her key appeal in the European Parliament to secure the post. Her appeal appeared to appease most of the political groups - but a lack of specifics, and opposition from Greens remain.

EU commission has first-ever woman president

Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday obtained a narrow majority of support in the European Parliament to become the first-ever female president of the European Commission.

PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory

Warsaw and Budapest are boasting about their support for von der Leyen after the german is confirmed only by a small margin of MEPs, but the illiberals should not expect the softening of rule of law scrutiny.

Analysis

First 100 days: Digital and Green Deal policies hit by crises

The first 100 days of Ursula von der Leyen's commission were supposed to be about the digital and environmental transitions. However, that agenda has been hit by first the coronavirus, and now the Greek border situation.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants trapped on boat in Tripoli due to shelling
  2. EU anti-crisis budget 'could be up to €1.5 trillion'
  3. Western Balkan states appeal for EU help with masks
  4. Spain's lockdown could be extended until 10 May
  5. IMF: Pandemic crisis will be worse than great depression
  6. German economy minister expects progress on EU deal
  7. Italian PM: EU is at risk if no deal on recovery plan
  8. Belgian region to block EU Green Deal

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. How the EU's virus-alert agency failed
  2. Flemish nationalists torpedo Belgium Green Deal pledge
  3. Eurozone agreed €500bn cushion against virus blow
  4. Why Europe must act now, and on a big scale
  5. EU court blocks Poland's bid to 'frighten' judges
  6. Coronavirus sees approval-rating soar for EU leaders
  7. EU science chief who 'quit' had been told to resign
  8. EU delays 'exit strategies' plan, as WHO urges caution

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us