Monday

21st Aug 2017

Opinion

Poland's diplomatic suicide

  • The final nail in the coffin of Poland’s EU diplomacy has been firmly hammered by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. (Photo: pis.org.pl)

It does not matter if Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister, gets re-elected as the President of the EU. This week, the final nail in the coffin of Poland’s EU diplomacy has been hammered home by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).

Only the countries of the four in the Visegrad group (V4) can save the Central European candidate, along with Poland’s tarnished reputation.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It is almost impossible to explain why Poland will not support the only possible candidate from Central Europe; especially since Warsaw has made this region a pivot of its foreign policy. This move is self-contradictory and, at first sight, improbable, but nonetheless may effectively end Donald Tusk’s career as the President of the EU.

According to public opinion polls, the Polish people, who are by far the most EU-enthusiastic nation of the Visegrad group, prefer that Donald Tusk remains in his seat. But now they are starting to speculate on what else this government is capable of, while remembering the months-old announcement from Jaroslaw Kaczynski, which has just come true.

A verbal threat had been looming for many months but the general assumption was that Warsaw would not oppose the reelection if it came to a vote. What seemed to be just a diplomatic gamble before, has now become a dreadful reality.

For Kaczynski, the opportunity to damage his old political rival is more important than any loyalty he might have to the Central European alliance. Kaczynski is risking that, instead of Donald Tusk, the EU may choose someone indifferent to the special interests shared by the Visegrad Group.

Twisted logic

So far, the V4 partners have been in favour of the current president of the European Council. All they need to do is stress that Central Europe stands firmly behind their man, and that might just save Poland from itself - for now.

Sadly, the twisted logic of Poland’s leader has revealed itself once again. Earlier he claimed that he can live with lower GDP growth as long as his ideological plan is able to be implemented.

However, the question remains on what will happen if Donald Tusk is not re-elected. Or perhaps more importantly, what he will be able to do without the domestic support of his presidency.

Europe should brace itself, because in each case the result will boost anti-EU sentiment - both in Poland and throughout the EU.

If the former becomes a reality, the initial effect will be felt by the moderate factions of the Polish political arena and society who will find themselves facing an even greater number of obstacles than at present.

Symbolic leader

Having a Polish president of the European Council is a symbolic anchor, helping everyone to believe that Poland is not all about Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Losing this post may strengthen anti-EU factions, which currently only hold a minority.

If anti-EU actors gain ground, nationalists, both in Poland and across Europe, will use the occasion to signal how the EU elites are lacking in democratic legitimacy. However false this may be, it should not be underestimated especially before the crucial elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Should the EU heads of state decide to prolong Donald Tusk mandate against the will of Polish government, they should alternatively present him as the representative of Central Europe - the V4 minus 1. Perhaps this would be the only way to save Europe from Poland’s latest dangerous stunt.

Wojciech Przybylski is editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight, a magazine on Central Europe published by Res Publica foundation in Warsaw

Poland isolated in bid to remove Tusk

Poland appears increasingly isolated in Brussels as it seeks public support to unseat Donald Tusk as president of the European Council.

Poland at war against Tusk's EU job

Poland's Law and Justice Party has put a little-known MEP, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, against Donald Tusk in the race for the European Council presidency.

EU needs lasting solution to refugee crisis

If we continue with the failed approach of the last two years then this could become a systemic crisis that threatens the EU itself, writes Gianni Pittella.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The return of the chlorinated chicken

Britain has only just started on the path towards a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, but you can already see the same all-too-familiar disagreements.

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference