Poland could reconsider its EU membership if a treaty change removes members’ veto, says Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the outgoing PiS party.
PiS is set to move into opposition after failing to find coalition allies following 15 October elections. Kaczyński’s hardening EU stance comes as he attempts to rally the party after its election shock.
Poland “voluntarily accepted restrictions” on its independence to “obtain certain benefits” from EU membership, but could “at any time make different decisions”, says Kaczyński.
The European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs committee called in October for revising the EU treaties to remove member states’ veto over 65 policy areas, including foreign policy and security.
Kaczyński accuses Donald Tusk’s new parliamentary majority of backing the plan, and calls on Poles to “fight, fight and fight again” to resist it.
This “German plan” would result in “the annihilation of the Polish state”, he said, speaking in front of a monument to Józef Piłsudski, founding father of Polish independence.
Poland risks becoming “an area inhabited by Poles, but ruled by external forces,” he added.
Kaczyński argues the EU should remain a union of nation states with large autonomy.
During its eight years of government, the PiS was embroiled in disputes with the EU institutions over alleged rule of law violations, resistance to EU plans to relocate illegal migrants, and EU climate policies the party believes harm Polish economic interests.
Kaczyński is due to retire as party leader in 2024.
The new leader should be an established figure within the party, at least a generation younger than himself and who “has been tried and tested in the heat of battle”, he says.
However, the party’s 74-year old founder left a window of opportunity to change his mind, saying he will retire “circumstances permitting”.
The party is expected to hold a congress in December to consider its strategy for coming local, European and presidential elections. Kaczyński had been expected to announce outgoing PM Mateusz Morawiecki would be his preferred successor for the party leadership.
However, many in the party blame Morawiecki for the election showing, for failing to unlock EU post-pandemic funds and an unpopular tax reform in 2022.
If Kaczyński does depart in 2024, this will prevent President Andrzej Duda from seeking the leadership since his second and final term expires in summer 2025.
The PiS should elect a more collective leadership to avert the party falling apart, says former agriculture minister and PiS MP Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, who currently advises Duda on rural affairs.
Duda is a consistent election winner and successful president, whereas Kaczyński’s mistakes cost the party its parliamentary majority, Ardanowski told Poland’s Super Express.