If reports of Brussels no longer requiring milestones on the rule of law to be met if Donald Tusk becomes prime minister are true, then the Polish electorate has been blackmailed into voting for a change of government, incumbent Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has claimed.
Former Eurocrat and leader of the Polish opposition Donald Tusk told reporters in Brussels on Thursday that once he is in office and offers unspecified assurances to the European Commission that “the rule of law will return to Poland,” funding previously withheld from the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party will be released without the need to complete substantial legislative reforms.
However, he would not be drawn on what specific measures he would be taking to appease the Commission.
Tusk visited Brussels this week for talks with the European People’s Party and met with both European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who arrived in Brussels on Thursday to attend the two-day European Council summit, said that it was “interesting” that the Commission now appears willing to provide Poland with the funding it is owed without insisting on the legislative reforms it demanded from the outgoing conservative administration. He accused Brussels of effective “unacceptable blackmail” to try and make both Poland’s parliament and president install Tusk as prime minister.
The ruling conservatives won the most votes and seats in the new parliament during the general election on Oct. 15, but fell short of a majority. This has allowed the liberal and centrist opposition parties the opportunity to form a new administration and install Donald Tusk, the European Union’s preferred candidate, as leader.
Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO), the Third Way alliance, and the Left party would create a bloc of 248 out of 460 seats in the new parliament.
The European Commission has been blocking €35.4 billion of post-pandemic recovery funds until Poland implements agreed milestones on judicial reform, including specific legislation with regard to the accountability and independence of judges.