Polish PM starts EU charm offensive 

Polish PM starts EU charm offensive 

A number of senior Polish ministers have been sacked in a major cabinet reshuffle seen as an attempt to rebuild the right-wing government’s international image after a series of conflicts with the EU.

The Law and Justice (PiS) ministers of foreign affairs, defence, health and agriculture were among those who lost their jobs, surprising many observers.

The most contentious change involved former defence minister Antoni Macierewicz.

The powerful PiS figure is strongly backed by the ultra-Catholic, nationalist wing of the party, largely for his theory that the 2010 air crash that killed then president Lech Kaczyński was the result of a conspiracy.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made the changes before he flew to Brussels to meet Jean Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, to discuss the judicial changes.

In Brussels, the commission said Morawiecki’s dinner took place in a friendly atmosphere.

“The best form of dialogue is conversation, not two monologues,” Morawiecki added after the dinner.

He said after the meeting that on climate and energy policy, the digital single market and defence, Poland would make up lost ground.

“This is a new government for a new and better Poland,” said Morawiecki when he announced the new lineup. “For us, the most important matter is to build a strong and safe Poland, both at its borders and within in borders.”

Morawiecki, an ex-banker who took on the job in December, appears to be trying to restore Poland’s reputation.

Poland is in conflict with the EU over the rule of law, environmental issues and migration.

The country became the first EU member to face the possible loss of voting rights after the EU initiated Article 7 in response to changes to the Polish legal system allegedly threatened judicial independence.

But Polish support for staying in the European Union is reportedly at a record high, despite PiS’s political showdown with Brussels over the alleged erosion of democratic rights.

A CBOS poll said 92 per cent of Poland’s population wanted to remain in the EU, up 3 per cent since the previous survey.

And the EU remains as popular as ever across the political spectrum.

While the population is generally positive about more European integration, joining the euro is not popular, with 77 per cent wanting to keep the national currency, the zloty.

The European project has always been popular in Poland, with the lowest level of support measured in 2001 when it was still above 50 per cent, while outright opposition peaked at a little over 30 per cent.

 

France’s President Emmanuel Macron with new Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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