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The Next Polish EU Commissioner

Affiche de la commission européenne sur le bâtiment Berlaymont

As the European elections come closer the issue of its outcome begins to unfold. The next European Commission, whoever is the next Commission President, will continue to have equal number of Commissioners to that of EU member states: 27, should Brexit truly take place.

There are already first speculative names mentioned as potential future Commissioners from Poland. As Konrad Szymański, Poland’s Europe minister (PiS), said recently: “the structure of the new Commission is unknown today, because its shape will be proposed by the new president. This is a very important decision for [Poland], but it is not possible to conduct such negotiations in public, because it would reveal what we care most about”. He continued in the Radio Zet interview: “we want to choose the best place for the Polish Commissioner for the next five years, so it fits well with the policies of the country”.

There needs to be a correlation between the state’s interests and the portfolio, the minister rightly says. It is too early to determine the portfolio and too early to talk the names, nevertheless the “stock market of names” is already out there. Szymański’s name is mentioned, too.

Here we present the people who are mentioned as a potential future European Commissioner:

Szymański

Konrad Szymański, current PiS Europe Minister (since 2015), is a former MEP (2004-2014). He is known for hard work (considered the best Polish MEP in 2013) and having conciliatory approach. Former member of AFET (Foreign Affairs), FEMM (Women’s Rights) and ITRE (Industry, Research, Energy) Committees.
(+) Generally liked and knowledgeable about the EU, could take any policy portfolio
(-) Member of the PiS Government involved in the rule of law process; he does not have a strong party position.

Fotyga

Anna Fotyga, current PiS MEP (2004-5 & since 2014), where she chairs SEDE (security & defence). She is a former Foreign Minister (2006-7) and an MP (2011-14). The field for which her experience is recognised is security. Most recently, she was nominated for the MEP Awards 2019. For more, see her interview for the Parliament Magazine.
(+) Strong political position in PiS & good SEDE chair in the EP
(-) Her experience suggests the position of the High Representative, which is not necessarily where the Polish government interests lie & it seems unlikely for the moment for a PiS politician to take an EU top-job portfolio.

Czarnecki

Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP since 2004 and the Parliament’s vice president (2014-18). Currently member of CONT. As vice president he was responsible for Eastern Partnership. He is known for his interests in sports. See the promo video made for Mr Czarnecki when he became VP. In 2018 he was removed from office of VP for his “serious misconduct” towards another MEP Róża Thun (EPP-PL).
(+) Strong political position in PiS; could take any portfolio
(-) Difficult re-election challenge ahead of him; following the recent removal from the position of VP it would be a challenge for Mr Czarnecki to expect an easy Parliamentary “ok” from hearings.

Poręba

Tomasz Poręba, MEP since 2009, where most recently he was the deputy chair of the TRAN Committee (transport). The project he has been heavily campaigning for is the highway north-south from the Slovak border to Lithuania in Eastern Poland (S19). He is the author of PiS electoral campaigns, including the current one.
(+) Strong political position in PiS; could take any internal policy portfolio, especially transport
(-) will he be the first choice for the job of Jarosław Kaczyński?

Bielan

Adam Bielan, currently senator (since 2015), former MEP 2004-2014, where he was also vice president of the house (2007-9). He is currently running for the MEP position because the EP is important: “majority of our laws are made in the Parliament”. Former member of IMCO (Internal Market) Committee. Recently he denied to seek the position of the European Commissioner, but he probably would not refuse it, neither…
(+) Could take any internal policy portfolio
(-) Weak political position (member of the Jarosław Gowin party Agreement) & denies the gossip

Kwieciński

Jerzy Kwieciński, minister of investment and economic development (since 2018) is a long-time civil servant-turned PiS politician in the current government. The industrial magazine wnp.pl has recently informed that Mr Kwieciński is “the iron candidate” for the position of the next Polish member of the European Commission.
(+) decent political position; technocrat, fitting the PiS logic that the Commission is the technocracy of civil servants, could take any internal policy portfolio;
(-) probably not the first choice.

Et alors?

Does the speculation matter? First, it does for it shows a certain maturity in the process of determining who should be the Commissioner – not the name but the portfolio should come first. Second, the maturity is confirmed by the recognition that the portfolio allocation will be done in liaison with the next Commission President.

The missing element is the fact that the Commissioner from Poland is barred from “representing Poland”. It is not the job of a Commissioner and should the next Pole to replace Elżbieta Bieńkowska present themselves this way, they are bound to be rejected by the Commission President or the European Parliament.

It is unclear if the decision is political (within PiS) or governmental (as the treaty says). Should the decision be taken by PiS, it shall be the Jarosław Kaczyński call. Should the decision by delegated to the Prime Minister, than Mateusz Morawiecki shall call the shots.

The party strongest candidates are probably Poręba, Czarnecki and Fotyga. The government strongest candidates are probably Szymański and Kwieciński.

In any case, the current speculation does not include the possibility that the new Commission President could negotiate the next College only in the fall this year. After the Polish parliamentary elections scheduled for the fall. Whoever governs in Poland as of November could negotiate and nominate the next Commissioner with the next Commission President. It may well be Law and Justice. It may be, however, another political force that will organise itself only after the European elections 26 May. Until the May vote it is known as the European Coalition and currently it is going neck-and-neck with Law and Justice in the opinion polls (oko.press):

PiS v. European Coalition latest opinion polls

About the Author

Piotr Maciej Kaczynski
I talk, I write, I speak, I study, I analyse, I teach, I hike, I run, I travel, I learn, I care. This e-home will be developed gradually. You can find information about me and about my publications and other activities.

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