Difficult first weeks in the Parliament for PiS

Law and Justice has a very difficult period in the new European Parliament. It comes into the chamber as the winner of the Polish vote. Since, there are problems. First small, then big.

The first small problem is the fact that the group of PiS, European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) is relegated from the 3rd position in the last Parliament to no. 6 in the new one.

The serious problems come when PiS does not see it coming. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, a former vice-president of the Parliament, is expected an easy win, as part of a wider agreement with appointments of the Parliament’s leadership. And he loses to Fabio Castaldo in the final round. This is an unexpected blow, maybe a signal of even bigger problems on the horizon.

0:1 to the European Parliament.

The day after, Karol Karski, a returning Questor, is re-elected to the same position. 1:1, Law and Justice scores.

The following week the parliamentary committees begin to organise themselves. ECR is entitled to two chairmanships. First goes smoothly, as a Belgian NVA politician Mr van Overtveldt is elected by acclamation into the chairmanship of the budgets committee. Then, Beata Szydło, a MEP who is a former PM and elected with over 500,000 votes, is put as a candidate for the chairwomanship of the employment committee.

The candidacy of Szydło is a subject of a successful cordon sanitaire by the left-wing groups in the Parliament. She is rejected once. And second time. 3:1 to the European Parliament.

In the end, PiS gives in. Ms Szydło candidacy is withdrawn. A Slovak MEP Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová is elected chair of EMPL.

The next fight

The position of PiS in the European Parliament is bad. The Polish governmental party enjoys widespread support in Poland, respect in the Council since it runs a government, but in the European Parliament those rules do not apply.

And the biggest fights of all comes soon. It is the fight for the confirmation of whoever is the candidate for the European Commissioner from Poland.

There is a speculation about the portfolio I am not going to exploit. Let’s just say there are many wishes and options. Until Ms von der Leyen does not work out a proposed new College, the issue is largely speculative.

In Poland there are two open questions. First, who will take the appointment decision. Will it be the leader of the ruling party Jarosław Kaczyński, or the Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki?

Second, who will be the nominee? I have speculated on the names before twice. The star of Ms Szydło is so low now that the chances for her to pass through the EP hearings seem limited. The ideas for Mr Brudziński, Mr Czarnecki or Mr Poręba might be too partisan to swallow, and the chances for ladies are greater anyway. Ms Fotyga is out of the contention, too, due to personal reasons.

Hence there are four names left in the game.

Jadwiga Emilewicz

The best chances today are with Jadwiga Emilewicz. A 44 year old minister of entrepreneurship is also known for not exactly being ‘the best friend of coal’. In the last period she has been talking of a just transition. Here is what she has to say about the coal-dependence of Poland:

Our energy core is based on coal, but it was not our choice.

Jadwiga Emilewicz, Minister of Entrepreneurship of Poland, 19 June 2019

The second option is Konrad Szymański, the Europe minister and a long term MEP (2004-2014), who is considered a moderate among the PiS politicians.

The third option is Jerzy Kwieciński, the investment and economic development minister.

Those are three names mentioned by Mr Krasnodębski a few days ago in an interview for Rzeczpospolita. Mr Krasnodębski did not say that the list is closed at this stage. Among other options one should not rule out Adam Bielan MEP, who is a returning MEP and a close affiliate of the PiS leader who at the same time has decent relations in the EP and in the Commission. Mr Bielan would probably survive the EP hearings.

Since there is only one woman in the set-up as Ms Szydło and Ms Fotyga are not considered at the time being, the odds are quite decent with Ms Emilewicz.

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