Poland to block EU summit conclusions after Tusk victory

Prime minister Beata Szydlo protests at reappointment of Polish European Council chief

Donald Tusk: promised to promote unity when he was reappointed to a second term as European Council president. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Donald Tusk: promised to promote unity when he was reappointed to a second term as European Council president. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

 

Poland will block European Union leaders from issuing formal conclusions at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels after the country’s former prime minister Donald Tusk won a second term as European Council president. Mr Tusk promised to promote unity when he was reappointed to a second term of 2½ years with the support of all EU member states except his own.

“It may sound like a paradox because of the context, but anyway your decision is an expression of our unity today. I will work with all of you without any exceptions because I am truly devoted to a united Europe, ” he said.

Poland’s right-wing government opposed Mr Tusk’s reappointment for a second term because it claimed he supported its “overthrow” by backing an opposition protest last December.

Prime minister Beata Szydlo said she would refuse to sign off on formal conclusions at the end of the summit in protest.

“It’s clearly written that summits end with conclusions. If one country doesn’t accept it, it means the summit is not relevant. If now there is a way to find a different solution, that only shows that there are no rules. And Poland doesn’t agree with this. And I definitely won’t accept any document from this summit,” she said.

Radical way

Former Polish president Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the most powerful figure in the ruling Law and Justice party, has accused Mr Tusk of being “morally responsible” for the death of his twin brother, former president Lech Kaczynski, in a plane crash in Russia in 2010.

“What happened is very bad. A politician was chosen who broke all of the rules that used to bind the EU, more specifically rules regarding neutrality. He didn’t maintain this neutrality and one can say he did it in a radical way. He strongly intervened in Polish affairs, in internal affairs in very specific situations that were very tense,” Mr Kaczynski said in Warsaw.

Other EU leaders shrugged off Poland’s protest on Thursday night with German chancellor Angela Merkel saying they were prepared for it.

“According to the treaties, the president has to be elected with a qualified majority. Even then a consensus is important. But finding consensus should not lead to blocking a vote,” she said.

Diplomatic tricks

Poland had hoped to win support from Hungary, and perhaps from Britain, for its attempt to block Mr Tusk’s reappointment but it was alone when the vote was taken, leaving foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski to conclude that the EU was being run by Germany.

“We know that now this is a union controlled by Berlin, which is not embarrassed, it doesn’t play out any diplomatic tricks, but strongly demands the realisation of its political will. And that requires our consideration,” he said.

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said Poland should not have been surprised at the outcome because Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, the MEP Warsaw nominated to succeed Mr Tusk was not a realistic candidate.

“Maybe at the end, Poland succeeded in doing a very good campaign in favour of Donald Tusk,” Mr Michel said.