Tuesday

13th Nov 2018

Polish government preparing EU rift, Tusk warns

  • Tusk at the G20 summit in Germany last month (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

European Council president and former Polish leader Donald Tusk has said the Polish government is preparing to put his native country’s EU membership into question.

Tusk spoke outside the Polish prosecutor’s office on Thursday (3 August) in Warsaw where he spent eight hours answering questions about his role in the 2010 Smolensk air disaster.

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

  • Smolensk air disaster killed Lech Kaczynski and 95 others (Photo: Piotr Pawlowski)

The probe is widely seen as an attempt by the ruling Law and Justice party to blacken his name.

But Tusk highlighted the fact that Law and Justice has ignored an EU court order to stop logging in the primeval Bialowierza forest.

"There is a question mark over Poland's European future today," he said.

“The fact that a European tribunal decision is rejected so arrogantly is evidence of something very dangerous in my opinion - it is an overt attempt to put Poland in conflict with the European Union,” he went on.

“It smells like an introduction to an announcement that Poland does not need the European Union and that Poland is not needed for the EU,” Tusk said.

“I’m afraid we are closer to that moment,” he said.

He said Law and Justice had gone so far in its conflict with the EU institutions that even its regional ally, Hungary, had begun to distance itself from Poland in the EU Council.

“There are several issues where the behaviour of the Polish government appears to be very controversial … This is how the whole EU sees it and that sometimes even includes Budapest. Yes, I mean it,” Tusk said.

The European Commission has threatened to push for sanctions against Poland over Law and Justice’s meddling in the judiciary and over the logging controversy.

The measures could see its voting rights in the EU Council suspended in what would be an unprecedented step in EU history.

The Commission has separately started preparations to fine Poland for its refusal to honour an EU Council vote on sharing asylum seekers with Greece and Italy.

Law and Justice is also preparing to file World War II reparation claims against Germany, in what would open a new front in its clash with the EU establishment.

The Smolensk probe comes amid allegations by Law and Justice party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski that Tusk colluded with Russia in the air disaster that killed his twin brother and then Polish president Lech Kaczynski as well as 95 senior officials.

Plenty to fear

Jaroslaw Kaczynski recently told Polish media that he had told German chancellor Angela Merkel that Tusk had “plenty to fear” from the Smolensk investigation.

He also told Tusk’s Civic Platform party in parliament not to “wipe your treacherous mouths with my late brother's name. You destroyed him, you murdered him”.

Tusk, who appeared as a witness on Thursday, said he did not rule out that the “finale” of the probe would see him become a suspect.

“Mr. Kaczynski doesn’t frighten me,” Tusk said.

He said the Polish judicial reforms, which would give Law and Justice control over appointments in the supreme court and in lower courts, were designed to use the Polish judicial system “as a tool against the opposition. And indeed against people they don’t like”.

“I’m afraid I belong to this bunch,” he said.

Roman Giertych, a Tusk plenipotentiary, said Kaczynski’s words to Merkel on “plenty to fear” indicated that he was already meddling in the judicial process by getting privileged information from the prosecutor’s office.

Tusk’s mandate

Tusk, whose EU Council job expires in 2019, declined to say if he would run in the next Polish elections.

"I have over two years of work in Brussels,” he said in Warsaw on Thursday.

“I’m not able to answer that today, but everything is possible. For the moment, I don’t plan it,” he said.

Tusk summoned again to Polish court

EU president said he may use diplomatic immunity to decline invitations to appear as a witness in Polish cases if they start to interfere with his work.

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.

Tusk summits to create new-model EU

Tusk has proposed a series of 13 top-level talks to take forward European reform, but his backing for a multi-speed Europe risks deepening divide.

News in Brief

  1. UK seeks swift use of new EU chemical weapons blacklist
  2. Barnier briefs EU ministers: intense negotiations continue
  3. Romanian minister preparing EU presidency steps down
  4. Finland says Russia possibly behind GPS jamming
  5. German AfD leader under fire for Swiss campaign funding
  6. Seehofer announces he will step down as CSU party leader
  7. EU condemns elections in Russia-occupied eastern Ukraine
  8. German Greens pick two top candidates for EU election

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  2. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  3. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  4. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials
  5. Liberals ally with Macron for election, but no candidate yet
  6. Revealed: Link between MEPs CO2 votes and domestic car jobs
  7. All Quiet on the Eastern Front?
  8. Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us