Donald Tusk designs a government team with which to return Poland to the center of the EU | International

Donald Tusk met this Friday with the members of the future coalition government with which he wants to bring Poland back to the center of the EU as quickly as possible. The Polish leader is expected to return to power next week. It is expected that after the failure next Monday of the inauguration of the ultraconservative Mateusz Morawiecki, the new liberal parliamentary majority resulting from the polls of October 15 will vote for him as Prime Minister the same day. The politician, who led the country between 2007 and 2014 and was president of the European Council between 2014 and 2019, has surrounded himself with a hard core of trust who will tackle the task of restoring the state of law, sanitation of institutions and reconstruction. its relations with the EU, damaged after eight years of government by the ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

According to the program of the liberal parties, Tusk will be appointed Prime Minister by the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament, on Monday December 11 evening, after the predictable failure of Morawiecki’s investiture. After presenting his government program and his cabinet to the House on Tuesday, he will receive, barring any surprises, the vote of confidence from the majority of deputies. The process will end with the inauguration ceremony of the new executive by President Andrzej Duda. Tusk hopes this will happen without further delay on Wednesday, to begin his mandate by participating on the same day in the EU summit with the Western Balkans and representing the country at the European Council on December 14-15. “For me, it is very important that we deal quickly and without setbacks with Polish interests in Brussels,” the liberal leader told the press on Friday after the meeting with his team.

“We will do everything in our power to restore Poland to its status as a law-abiding state,” also promised the leader of the Civic Coalition (KO), which brings together his party, the liberal Civic Platform (PO). , and other minorities. training.

Tusk revealed that he was working tirelessly with the future Minister of European Affairs, Adam Szlapka, and with Adam Bodnar, candidate for the Justice portfolio, who will be decisive in unlocking the 35.4 billion euros of the Polish recovery plan , suspended due to the deterioration of the rule of law. The leader announced that one of his government’s first steps would be to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The move aims to demonstrate the new team’s willingness to respect the rule of law within the EU, after the PiS government placed Poland on the brink of a legal break with Europe by declaring supremacy of national law on European law. Constitutional ruling.

The future prime minister gave more details on the first measures he will take upon coming to power, such as increasing teachers’ salaries and extending the so-called 500+ child support program to the new 800+, which will go from 115 euros per child per month to 184. Tusk also announced that the Ministry of Industry would be established in Katowice, in the mining region of Silesia, and assured that solutions would be sought to satisfy the transporters, who have been blocking the border with Ukraine for weeks to protest what they consider unfair competition for products from the country invaded by Russia.

The politician denounced the fact that the outgoing government spent millions of zlotys in its last days on projects carried out by those close to PiS. “There is a wave everywhere, a waste of money, an attempt to leave a fifth column of PiS where it can. We have to clean up. Instantly and decisively,” he said. Tusk also announced audits and the creation of inter-ministerial teams to review PiS decisions, in cooperation with the prosecutor’s office.

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Rule of law and European partners

One of the new government’s priorities is to repair the rule of law after the PiS-initiated reform of the justice system, with a plan already drawn up for some key institutions whose details Tusk did not want to reveal. To remedy a mess of such magnitude that blocking European funds is costing Poland dearly, Tusk relies on Bodnar, an independent figure well respected in the legal field. This law professor and senator after the October elections promises to undertake the task of depoliticizing justice, respecting the law to the millimeter. The future minister also demonstrated proven commitment as a human rights activist and was a diligent mediator between 2015 and 2021, when PiS was in power. His presence in government also indicates a change in the treatment of refugees arriving in the country from the border with Belarus, so that international asylum law is respected.

The person tasked with repairing the country’s virtually severed ties with its European partners like Germany will be Radoslaw Sikorski, as Tusk pointed out. The new head of Foreign Affairs, if all goes as planned in the coalition, is a veteran who already held this portfolio in the two previous governments led by the Civic Platform and who was also head of Defense within PiS. Husband of the famous American journalist Anne Applebaum, Sikorski in his previous mandates promoted the Weimar Triangle, the group formed by London, Paris and Warsaw. The talkative politician, who knows Russia and Ukraine well, arrives at the ministry at a time when bilateral relations with the invaded country are at an all-time low after crises such as those over grain and transporters.

During his appearance this Friday, Tusk has already made it clear that Hungary, a partner of the Visegrad Group (which also includes the Czech Republic and Slovakia), could stop counting on Poland as an ally when it comes to power: “ (Viktor) Orbán blocks European money that Poland was supposed to receive for military aid to Ukraine. We are talking about 800 million euros. Its relationship with Moscow and Putin is organic,” he denounced.

In the Council of Ministers, if there are no surprises, there will be some 24 ministers, including four without portfolio, according to the lists put forward by the Polish media and confirmed to this newspaper by Civic Platform sources. In Tusk’s closest circle will be former ministers from his previous governments, with the loyalty and experience to make firm decisions and undertake the promised reforms and audits. Depending on the weight that each party obtained in the electoral results, the majority will be the center-right group KO, Tusk, followed by Third Way (formed by the agrarian party PSL and the conservative Polska 2050), and Left of Lewica .

None of the main ministries will be led by women, who represent a third of the government and end up with departments such as Education, Health or Family and Social Policies, in addition to Industry. The Executive includes three new areas, with two ministers for Equality, Policies for Older People and Civil Society.

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