Tuesday

17th Sep 2019

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. German top lawmaker scolds Bettel over Johnson snub
  2. Greens decide on Tuesday on talks on Five Star joining
  3. Belgian mayors give Juncker a tongue-lashing
  4. Von der Leyen defends 'way of life' slogan
  5. Court hears case on UK's pre-Brexit parliament shutdown
  6. Nato rings alarm on Gulf 'escalation'
  7. Luxembourg mockery of British leader sparks 'anger'
  8. Majority of Belgians against excluding Vlaams Belang

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  2. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing
  3. Trumpworld In Europe
  4. How EU firms and banks help fund Amazon fires
  5. Amazon fires mean EP must rethink Mercosur trade deal
  6. EU must give full support to Ukraine to dissuade Kremlin
  7. EU divided on how to protect rule of law
  8. Nordic region to become world's most sustainable and integrated

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us