27th Feb 2020

Polish commissioner to take on Libertas in campaign

  • Commissioner Hubner will stand for European elections in June (Photo: European Commission)

Polish commissioner Danuta Hubner has agreed to stand for European elections and defend Europe against any criticism to be raised by anti-treaty group Libertas during the campaign, she told EUobserver.

"I was offered this possibility by the Polish prime minister, which I have in principle accepted. But it is not yet decided or set in stone. The list would be generated in a month or two from now, so it's too early to talk about details," she said about the nomination.

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 join as a group

Ms Hubner said she considered the June elections of particular importance, because it would be the first time they would be about Europe, not just national issues.

"This is because of the treaty and the new political group - Libertas - which will raise issues to which we will have to react strongly. These elections will be indeed European in nature, it will be challenging and I would like to say what I have to say about Europe during this campaign," she explained.

The Polish commissioner stressed the need, especially in turbulent times, to "talk loudly about the common European interests," which need to be protected.

The Libertas party set up a branch in Poland at the beginning of this month. Its leader Daclan Ganley, who supported the No-campaign leading to the rejection of the treaty by Irish voters last year, says he is not opposed to the European Union but to the proposed Lisbon Treaty which he argues will limit member states' national sovereignty.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski has declined to sign the treaty until it is accepted by Ireland.

Shift in political affiliation

Ms Hubner's move also marks a shift in political families. Currently, the Polish commissioner is listed on the European Socialists website, but the prime minister's liberal Civic Platform Party she would run for is affiliated with the centre-right European People's Party (EPP). The EPP currently holds the majority in the EU parliament and is expected to keep it after the elections.

Ms Hubner denied being a socialist, explaining that her affiliation came about in 2004 because there was a Social-Democratic government in power in Poland, which sent her to Brussels as a commissioner.

"It's true that when I was appointed commissioner it was a Social-Democratic government, so many people associate me with them. But if I look for any political conviction, I would probably call myself a liberal democrat - that is more or less what I am, " she said.

The 60-year old politician stressed that in the 1990s she cooperated with all governments, irrespective of their colour, first as an advisor and then as an EU affairs minister responsible for Poland's EU accession.

Hubner replacement?

Asked if she would accept a second mandate as a commissioner if the Tusk government nominated her for the new college, Ms Hubner said that it was too early to think about it, as her current focus was on the EU elections.

She said she had not yet considered anyone to temporarily replace her during the May and June election campaign.

One scenario circulated in Brussels is that during her leave of absence, the regional policy portfolio might be taken over by Czech commissioner Vladimir Spidla, who currently oversees employment and social affairs.

WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'

The European Commission also urged EU member states to review their pandemic plans and to inform it about their healthcare capabilities in response to the outbreak.

Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill

Two pro-transparency campaigners received a €23,700 bill from the EU's border agency Frontex after having lost a court case. Frontex's budget for 2020 is €460m. The campaigners refuse to pay, saying the agency doesn't need the money.

'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes

Saturday's elections in Slovakia could herald the rise of the far-right People's Party Our Slovakia, or the emergence of a populist anti-corruption candidate, in a country wracked by mistrust since the assassination two years ago of an investigative journalist.


EU development policy needs a fresh start

As the European Commission meets the African Union in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday, prior to a new EU-Africa strategy, the obsolete donor-recipient mentality must be junked, writes European Parliament development committee chairman Tomas Tobé MEP.


Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Panic-buying, plus resentment at the media for fuelling the panic, are the paradoxical responses of residents of the Italian towns of Vicenza and Vo', where Italy's first victim of the coronavirus died last Friday.

Greek island riots require measured response, says EU

Residents on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios have been met with riot police, following protests against plans to erect new migrant detention camps. The European Commission says measures by Athens' authorities must be "necessary and proportionate."

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'
  2. Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill
  3. Turkish jets keep violating Greek airspace
  4. 'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes
  5. EU development policy needs a fresh start
  6. EU critical of China on Swedish dissident publisher
  7. NGOs urge EU to tackle meat consumption 'problem'
  8. Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us