Poland risks EU iso­la­tion in wake of Tusk de­ba­cle

New Straits Times - - World -

WAR­SAW: Poland risks iso­la­tion from the Euro­pean Union af­ter its right-wing gov­ern­ment failed in its bit­ter cam­paign to de­rail the re-elec­tion of its own cit­i­zen, Don­ald Tusk, as the bloc’s pres­i­dent.

Head­lines such as “Alone in the EU” and “Tusk won 27 to 1” were seen on the front pages of ma­jor lib­eral and cen­trist news­pa­pers in Poland on Fri­day, while a high-cir­cu­la­tion tabloid de­clared Tusk “King Don­ald II”.

The bloc’s lead­ers voted by 27 to one at a Brus­sels sum­mit to give for­mer Pol­ish pre­mier Tusk a new 2½ year man­date — with only Poland’s cur­rent prime min­is­ter, Beata Szydlo, vot­ing against.

On Fri­day, Szydlo, whose eu­roscep­tic Law and Justice (PiS) party had nursed a long and bit­ter en­mity with the cen­trist Tusk, blocked the sum­mit’s fi­nal state­ment in re­sponse.

Her gov­ern­ment ac­cused Tusk of hav­ing “bru­tally vi­o­lated” the rule of “po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity” by be­com­ing in­volved in do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal dis­putes.

Since win­ning power in Oc­to­ber 2015 elec­tions, Szydlo’s pop­ulist ad­min­is­tra­tion had pushed through a string of con­tro­ver­sial re­forms that trig­gered mass protests at home and an EU threat of sanc­tions over rule of law vi­o­la­tions.

The Rzecz­pospolita news­pa­per on Fri­day said Tusk’s re-elec­tion was an “un­prece­dented fail­ure” for Szydlo’s gov­ern­ment.

“It’s ob­vi­ous that War­saw is iso­lated and has no al­lies in Europe.”

Gazeta Wy­bor­cza said “the open war against the EU will have detri­men­tal con­se­quences for Poland”, par­tic­u­larly in terms of the fu­ture EU bud­get and re­gional pol­icy.

Don­ald Tusk

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