Donald Tusk and his Polish Parliamentary coalition have decided to adopt the same stance as taken by the outgoing Conservative PiS party on the issue of European Union treaty change.
This means all parties in the Polish Parliament have now pledged to oppose the proposed EU treaty changes that would remove the Member States’ right to a veto across a wide area of competence. These include foreign and security policy and the move would bring a whole spate of powers under the control of the European Commission.
Tusk, speaking on November 21, the eve of the European Parliament debate on treaty change, warned that the idea represented the kind of “naive euro-enthusiasm” that pushed the UK to leave the EU.
PiS has been Poland’s ruling party since 2015 but no longer has a majority in the Polish Parliament and it will have to surrender the reins of office in December.
It has voiced categorical opposition to any suggestion of further centralisation in the EU, preferring a Europe of nation states with limited EU powers.
Tusk appears to have moved decisively against the treaty change proposals because he feels any support for them would give PiS something tangible to campaign on in opposition.
In addition, it seems he sees little chance of the proposals attracting unanimous support among the Member States.
He said: “All Polish MEPs who work with me will vote against the adoption of the report” in which the proposals are included. He added this was “not because we are against progressing European integration” but because of the specific nature of some of the proposals and the pace of change.
Tusk said he felt the EU “needs repair in many places, but the stupidest method will be to fall into this very naive enthusiasm for integration” that led to Brexit during his role as President of the European Council.
“One of the reasons why the UK left the EU was this naive, sometimes even unbearable euro-enthusiasm, which was transformed into projects that changed the character of the EU,” Tusk added.
He also declared: “No groups on the Polish political scene will allow ourselves to be involved in any decisions, manoeuvres or processes that would limit Polish independence, sovereignty and interests.”
Nevertheless, he promised that, after years of disputes between Warsaw and Brussels under the outgoing PiS administration, the government he plans to form in December will ensure Poland is again a “leading country in the EU”.
This likely signals that Poland is becoming more focused on improving relations with Germany and France and less on attempting to build alliances in Central and Eastern Europe.
Tusk’s declared stance on the reform of the EU treaties has been the only conciliatory move towards the outgoing PiS Government. On the same day he also announced a range of measures that indicate that he plans to pursue what some argue is a “vendetta” against the Right.
Tusk said the Polish majority intended to appoint three parliamentary investigative committees to examine the issuing of visas to non-EU citizens, the alleged use of the US Pegasus software in illegal surveillance of opposition politicians and the attempt to hold a postal ballot during the COVID pandemic.
He announced that the three committees would represent a sign of determination to show that the priority was to hold the outgoing Government’s officials to account and he promised that those found to have been wronged would be “compensated”.
Tusk said he hoped that the plans to set up these committees would act as a warning to those currently still in office not to abuse their power for the remainder of their time in post and be a general warning for all in future that wrongdoing will be punished.
He repeated once more that the new coalition he leads will have the necessary majority in Parliament to put the head of the Polish central bank Adam Glapiński before a state tribunal.
That is in relation to Glapiński’s alleged failure to combat inflation by not implementing an interest rates rise earlier.
If such a motion was successful Glapiński would be suspended from holding office and if the State Tribunal convicted him he would be debarred altogether. The Tribunal is the judicial body that rules on the constitutional liability of those occupying the highest offices of state.
The new majority leader also promised that he would take action against the state commission on Russian influence, the formation of which led to mass protests in June because it was widely viewed as an attempt to vilify and disbar opposition politicians.
Tusk acknowledged that legislation to abolish the commission would not be approved by the Polish President Andrzej Duda.
In light of that, he promised to take action to change the membership of that commission so it reflected what he said were the new political realities.