Last time we wrote about who can be the Polish Commissioner in the next European Commission there were 6 names on the agenda. Four of them are still in play (Szymański, Fotyga, Bielan and Kwieciński), but there are three new names that come out after the European elections.
All depends on the set-up of the next European Commission, it’s structure and organisation. The Polish governing party, Law and Justice, is looking more into the dossier and does not try to impose a specific person, which is a smart strategy.
Still, depending on the portfolio different people are mentioned. Next to Adam Bielan, newly returning MEP, Anna Fotyga, a re-elected MEP, Konrad Szymański, the Europe Minister, and Jerzy Kwieciński, the Economy Minister there are three new names. Two heavyweights, Beata Szydło and Joachim Brudziński, come from the inner circles of power within the Law and Justice.
Ms Szydło, now a first time MEP, is a former prime minister. Since elections she has been tipped for all the important positions: vice-president of the European Parliament (July), President of Poland in 2020 or 2025, and the European Commissioner. The main reason for this resurgence of popularity is Ms Szydło electoral performance: over 500.000 votes.
At the same time, Ms Szydło is remembered for anti-European behaviour when she took office. The problems with the rule of law in Poland begun with her government. She has had the EU flags removed from her office and official meetings. When she addressed the European Parliament she lied about refugees in Poland confusing the Ukrainian immigrants with refugees. It will be interesting to see how the newly-elected MEP will try to put the difficult past behind her. Effectively, she is the face for almost everything Poland has been criticized in the EU for the last four years.
Her chance of being accepted as a Commissioner during the EP hearing: limited. Even Law and Justice recognises the challenge. Not wanting a confrontation, it may well be that someone else is nominated EU Commissioner.
The next heavyweight is Joachim Brudziński, a former interior minister turned MEP. For Mr Brudziński to become a Commissioner it would take a skilful negotiations. He is a close affiliate of the PiS Chairman Jarosław Kaczyński, with whom he spends holidays. In 2017, for example, the gentlemen went hiking:
Truly, Mr Brudziński is probably the closest to the Chairman from all of the mentioned potential Commissioners. The political affiliations is his forte. His potential portfolio could be in the security area, which is not exactly the objective of the Polish government (economy, energy).
Still, Ms Szydło’s and Mr Brudziński’s foreign languages are not strong qualifications. Foreign language skills is not a must in the EP; in the College, however, it is.
If Law and Justice would like to avoid controversy, Ms Emilewicz could be a good option. Minister Gowin openly talks about this lady in a specific arrangement. He also points out to her weakness: she is not a member of the Law and Justice.
Who is Jadwiga Emilewicz? Ms Emilewicz is a 44 year old minister of entrepreneurship with the Agreement (Porozumienie), a junior coalition partner of Law and Justice. She could take an energy or environmental portfolio, says Mr Gowin in the Polsat News interview.
Jarosław Gowin, who is a leader of Porozumienie and a deputy PM, says that Ms Emilewicz would fit because of her expertise in the topic (energy transition) and that she is a woman. In the next European Commission the gender balance will be an important argument.
Who’s decision is it?
There is a Polish consensus on the appointment of the next Polish Commissioner. The Law and Justice ruling party’s leader Jarosław Kaczyński will call the shots. The negotiations over the dossier will be led by the Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the Europe Minister Konrad Szymański. With whom will they negotiate?
This is unclear as there is no one frontrunner for the position of the Commission President. Earlier this week the Visegrad-4 failed to support one candidate in the European Council.
However, in the preparatory work, the European Parliament’s hearings are frequently downplayed. That may prove wrong, depending whom Mr Kaczyński sends to the Commission.