Thursday

25th May 2017

Poland vows anti-EU campaign after Tusk fiasco

  • Witold Waszczykowski in Poland's parliament.

Poland has vowed to obstruct EU work in retaliation for the re-election of Donald Tusk as president of the Council at last week's summit.

“We need to drastically reduce the level of trust towards the EU," Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski told Superexpress, a Polish tabloid, in an interview out on Saturday (11 March).

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When asked what measures he planned to take, he said: “For instance, blocking different [EU] initiatives, in order to play a very tough game”.

“For whole years, Polish public opinion was kept naive, thinking that the EU was a club of altruists, which takes care of joint outcomes. Yesterday we were shown that it’s different,” he added.

Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party last week tried and failed to block another term at the EU helm for Tusk, its political rival.

Polish society strongly supports the EU despite having elected a populist government that frequently bashes Europe.

Waszczykowski ruled out any drastic ideas, such as taking Poland out of the EU.

"We have to work there. However, we must realise that at any moment we could be fooled," he said in his interview.

Polish leaders have accused Tusk of being "Germany's candidate" and said he should take German citizenship "to set things clear".

According to Belgian daily Le Soir, German chancellor Angela Merkel urged Polish prime minister Beata Sydlo at the EU meeting to tone down the anti-German rhetoric.

Merkel also reportedly said it was false to claim that Poland was ignored at the EU level because all previous summit conclusions for the past 11 years were adopted with Poland’s consent.

Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel voiced EU frustration with Poland even more boldly.

He told journalists last week that Warsaw had dragged domestic politics into the EU presidential election.

"It cannot become the norm that one country boycotts our work because of purely domestic political reasons," he said on Friday, telling Polish leaders to act "like adults".

Meanwhile, the Tusk fiasco has opened the door to new allegiances in Europe.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen offered Poland, Hungary and Britain to work together on dismantling the EU.

"I think we can work together in many points," Le Pen told a correspondent for Rzeczpospolita, a Polish daily, in an article published on Sunday.

The French politician mentioned the blockage of EU efforts on migrant-sharing as an example.

She said the European Commission's investigation into Warsaw's alleged breaches of rule of law was meddling in Poland's domestic affairs.

Le Pen, who has close relations with the Kremlin, also told Rzeczpospolita that Nato was obsolete and that Central and Eastern Europe should be demilitarised.

Tusk dragged into 'political' spy probe

EU Council chief appeared as witness in a Russian spy probe in Warsaw amid increasingly toxic political climate in one of the Union's largest states.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

MEPs preparing to crack down on Orban

The EU assembly's largest group is split by its "enfant terrible", but enough MEPs are likely to abstain or vote Yes on the "Article 7" crackdown over Orban's illiberal rule.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Austria heading for snap elections

Foreign minister Kurz has taken leadership of the conservative party in what could lead to an alliance with the far-right.

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