Poland risks EU isolation in wake of Tusk debacle
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.