Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

New Polish PM brings same old government

  • Morawiecki (r), a former finance minister, at the EU Council in Brussels (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

Poland's new prime minister has brought in the same old government, amid EU hopes for "cooperation".

Mateusz Morawiecki, who was sworn in by the Polish president on Monday (11 December), kept every minister from the previous administration in their old posts in what he called a "government of continuity".

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

  • TVN24 fine comes as part of wider media crakdwn (Photo: Reuters/Kacper Pempel)

The only change was that the former finance minister kept his finance dossier, while the outgoing PM, Beata Szydlo, became a deputy PM without portfolio.

Morawiecki focused on family values and on the economy in his speech.

"Our point of departure will be the family, a safe family, work, dignified work, housing, housing for all," he said.

He alluded to Poland's disputes with the EU in one remark. "In the crucible of today's European and global experiences, in the heat of various disputes, we will steer ourselves by the good of Poland and its citizens," he said.

The 49-year old former banker, who speaks English and German, is well-liked in Brussels.

But his elevation comes amid multiple clashes with the EU.

The European Commission has threatened to impose sanctions on Poland if Morawiecki's right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party goes further in seizing control of Polish courts.

It is also suing Poland in the EU court over its boycott of a migrant relocation scheme and over logging in a primeval forest.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission president, pointedly mentioned "democratic values" in a short letter to Morawiecki on Monday.

He said he "counted" on the new PM's "active participation in steps that serve to strengthen the role of the European Union … [which] always stands on the side of democratic values".

He also said he "hoped" Poland would "remain a positive force for the sake of European integration".

Donald Tusk, the EU Council president, "counted on good cooperation" with Morawiecki.

Tusk, a former Polish leader and an outspoken critic of PiS, said: "The times require action on behalf of Poland's strong position in the European Union and the unity of all member states".

Continuity

Morawiecki's first move gave little reason to expect change, however.

His government line-up included Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister at the heart of Poland's judicial reforms, Witold Waszczykowski, the foreign minister who championed the EU migrant boycott, and Jan Szyszko, the environment minister behind the logging dispute.

It also included Antoni Macierewicz, the defence minister, who has previously accused Tusk of collusion with Russia.

The Polish opposition noted that the PiS party chief, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, was still the power behind the throne.

Grzegorz Schetyna, the leader of the centre-right Civic Platform party, said Morawiecki had been "impotent" to name his own cabinet.

"It's not easy to be prime minister in a government where Kaczynski calls the shots," Schetyna said.

Michal Szczerba, a Civic Platform MP, said: "We all know we're not dealing with an independent entity [Morawiecki]".

"Morawiecki wants to be modern and European, credible in Europe, but on the other hand he has to take care of his political backing", Szczerba added.

Free media

There was also little to feed hopes of democratic values in PiS' treatment of independent media.

Polish authorities fined TVN24, a private broadcaster, 1.5 million zloty (€360,000) on Monday for its coverage of anti-PiS protests in parliament in December last year.

The KRRiT, Poland's media regulator, said TVN24's programmes had been guilty of "promoting illegal activities and encouraging behaviour that threatens security", forcing TVN24 to defend its editorial principles.

TVN24 reporters "did not create an atmosphere of support for the events, but related, in the fullest possible way, what took place", the broadcaster said.

"Showing the facts, whether they are legal or not, cannot be treated as encouragement for any kind of action," it added.

Dorota Glowacka, a lawyer for the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, a Polish NGO, told the Reuters news agency that KRRiT's decision was "very disturbing".

"It may be perceived as a certain warning signal for other media that would like to report independently some events that are uncomfortable from the point of view of the ruling party," she said.

Tusk: Poland risks harming EU appeal

EU Council president said anti-democratic 'interventions' in Poland and the US could harm Western soft power in its contest with Russia.

MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad

MEPs urged Poland to comply with the EU treaties and to halt the 'reform' of the judiciary that could further undermine the rule of law in the country. Polish PM Beata Szydlo called the vote 'outrageous'.

Opinion

How powerful is Poland's Morawiecki?

The new prime minister of Poland is on a collision course with the EU Commission as well as his party. His debut appearance - and early departure - at last week's summit indicates his future is up in the air.

News in Brief

  1. No UK election before Brexit, says May
  2. Former French PM wants to be mayor of Barcelona
  3. Merkel's wingman in surprise defeat in internal party vote
  4. Orban sends thank-you letters to supportive MEPs
  5. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  6. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  7. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  8. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. World upside down as EU and Russia unite against US
  2. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  3. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  4. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  5. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  6. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  7. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  8. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us