Poland makes u-turn, sends female Commissioner nominee

El?bieta Bie?kowska and Donald Tusk. Poland, 2013. [Kancelaria Prezesa Rady Ministrów]

Poland has confirmed on Wednesday (3 September) Deputy Prime Minister El?bieta Bie?kowska is the country’s new commissioner nominee. Meanwhile, the Romanian government is likewise considering putting forward a second nominee.

Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker has promised prestigious jobs for countries putting forward female commissioners, as he has struggled to appoint enough women to his team. If Romania also nominates a female commissioner, this would take the overall number to seven.

Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Italy and Bulgaria have also previously nominated women.

Poland had proposed Foreign Minister Rados?aw Sikorski, possibly in a bid to get the EU’s foreign chief post, but on Wednesday, Polish state agency PAP said Bie?kowska is the country’s new candidate to become one of the next European commissioners.

On Saturday (30 August), EU leaders appointed Italy’s Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and vice president of the Commission, as well as electing Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk the next European Council president. 

Government spokeswoman Ma?gorzata Kidawa-B?o?ska did not specify which post Bie?kowska, who is also infrastructure minister, would be put forward for, the agency said. Polish media quoted unnamed sources as saying that she could lead either regional policy, or the internal market and services directorate.

Tusk may resign as soon as this month, with parliamentary speaker Ewa Kopacz, who is also first deputy head of the ruling Civic Platform party, seen as clear favourite to replace him.

The departure of Tusk, who became the first Polish prime minister since the end of communism to win two consecutive elections, will leave a sizable hole for the ruling Civic Platform party to fill. A move to Brussels by Bie?kowska would cause much less disruption politically, because she is not a member of the party, and is more of a technocratic figure.

Whoever is given Bie?kowska’s infrastructure portfolio in the government will have to be capable of overseeing massive projects to revamp Poland’s roads and railways, many of them partially funded by the EU.

>> Read: Romania makes second nomination for commissioner

Meanwhile, on Saturday Romania was asked by Juncker to put forward a second nominee, in addition to that of Dacian Ciolo?, the present EU Commissioner for Agriculture. The new nominee is likely to be a social democratic member of the European Parliament, Corina Cre?u. Though Romanian diplomatic sources said Bucharest would opt for the social affairs portfolio, rumours in Brussels say Juncker is considering giving the regional policy portfolio to the Eastern European country.

The 30 August summit which chose Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini to replace respectively Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton later this year.

The next step is that within one week, Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to announce the full list of Commissioners. Reportedly so far only Belgium, which is struggling to form a government, hasn’t submitted a name.

The second step is that Juncker will present a second list, also containing the Commissioners’ attributions. Currently member states are putting pressure on him to obtain “important” portfolios for their commissioners.

Then the European Parliament will audition the candidates. If everything goes well, the Commission would be able to take on its duties from 1 November.

  • 9 or 10 Sept. (expected): Junker to announce members and portfolios of the next Commission 
  • 1 Nov.: Mogherini to take on the role as the EU's High Representative.
  • 1 Dec.: Tusk to take on the role as Council President.

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