Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Poland vows new era in relations with EU and Russia

  • The style of the new Polish government is set to be very different (Photo: EUobserver)

In an effort to put Poland back on the European stage, the country's new leadership is set to be the first to ratify the EU's Lisbon Treaty, the bloc's new institutional set-up agreed in October.

"I hope that Poland will be the first country to ratify the treaty. This would be a symbolic gesture, signifying Poland's return to the heart of Europe", speaker of the Polish parliament Bronislaw Komorowski said on Thursday (22 November).

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

He was speaking to a group of journalists, including EUobserver, on the eve of a parliamentary session, during which prime minister Donald Tusk will outline his cabinet's programme and subsequently face a confidence vote.

But to secure swift treaty ratification, Mr Komorowski said the ruling parties would have to respect one key condition that president Lech Kaczynski had set – exemption from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The citizens' rights document, legally binding by the treaty, is seen in conservative circles as a backdoor to allowing abortions, euthanasia or gay marriages.

"We won't run the risk of the president not ratifying the treaty (..) That would be the worst for Poland and for Europe", Mr Komorowski said, but added that the ruling Civic Platform may reverse the opt-out arrangements, "should an opportunity come along".

New style - old interests

The new Polish leadership has made it clear it wants to draw a clear line between the 16-month era of former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who earned himself the reputation of a trouble-maker on European issues.

"We are a little more trusting. We don't see ourselves as a besieged fortress," foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said, committing himself to dialogue and transparency.

"In diplomacy, style makes a great difference", he noted.

According to the 44-year old politician, Warsaw is also willing to "open dialogue" with the Kremlin on two thorny issues – the US ambition to place parts of a missile shield in Poland and the frozen talks on an EU-Russia partnership agreement, which are intertwined with a Russian embargo on Polish meat.

But despite the obvious shift in style, the government is still set to "strongly present the Polish perspective" on key issues and to "oppose deals done above its head".

So the country is to continue to oppose the idea of building a pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea, which should connect Russia and Germany, but bypass the traditional transit countries such as the Baltic states and Poland.

It will also defend EU direct aid to farmers, as the payments are seen in Warsaw as part and parcel of the post-communist countries' economic catch-up with the rest of Europe.

The country of almost 40 million people wants to lead Eastern and Central Europe in pursuing policies for poorer parts of the 27-nation bloc.

"It's not a matter of Polish interest, but of securing equal opportunities across the entire continent", Mr Komorowski said.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU's centre-right make Weber their man to replace Juncker

The centre-right EPP party's congress wanted to show unity - but divisions remain after the political alliance lined up behind Germany's Manfred Weber as their 'Spitzenkandidat' ahead of next year's European election.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

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. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  2. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  3. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  4. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  5. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  6. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  7. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  8. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us