Poland wants economic portfolio, will support Georgieva to replace Ashton

Rados?aw Sikorski (centre) flanked by Catherine Ashton (L) and Carl Bildt (R)

Polish Foreign Minister Rados?aw Sikorski is among the official contenders for the post of High Representative. Yet the reality is more complicated. Poland is in fact interested in obtaining an economic portfolio. EURACTIV Poland reports.

EU leaders meet in Brussels on 30 August to decide who will replace Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton as President of the EU Council and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, respectively. Poland officially nominated Foreign Minister Rados?aw Sikorski as a candidate to replace Ashton.

>> Read: EU summit only to decide Van Rompuy and Ashton successors

However, in Poland, the nomination of Sikorski is perceived mostly as a political manoeuvre. Sikorski is not likely to resign from his national post and move to Brussels. He has spent most of the past seven years strengthening Poland’s position in international affairs, especially in Central and Eastern Europe.

Issues with Sikorski’s candidacy

There is also an issue of power being held by the High Representative. EU members states have proven to be very reluctant in transferring any amount of sovereignty in both foreign and security policies to Brussels. Sikorski arguably would have more influence and power as a foreign minister of one of the larger states of the European Union than he would if he assumed Ashton’s role.

Furthermore, Sikorski himself is not universally loved in European capitals. While his stance on Russian intervention in Ukraine has gained him support from many countries sharing Polish wariness of Moscow, he is perceived to be too much of a Russophobe by countries traditionally more friendly towards the former USSR. For example, Sikorski has so heavily attacked France’s decision to sell Mistral warships to Russia, that there is now something of a freeze in diplomatic contacts between France and Poland.

>> Read: Juncker’s Commission looking politically conservative, gender imbalanced

With regards to the other candidates for the High Representative, Poland is leaning more towards Kristalina Gerogieva. Poland has already indicated doubts about the Italian candidate, Federica Mogherini, whom Poland perceives to be not experienced enough in Eastern European affairs, and too pro-Moscow.

Tusk for the Council?

On Monday, The Guardian reported that Prime Minister David Cameron called his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, to convince the latter to agree to replace Herman Van Rompuy as the next President of the EU Council.

>> Read: Cameron to support Tusk for Council president at EU summit

Pawe? Gra?, Tusk’s Spokesman,  commented that “the negotiations are still ongoing”.

In Poland, many analysts believe that Tusk would not accept the European role, because he believes it to be lacking in real power. While his party is trailing a few percentage points behind the opposition at present, there is still plenty of time until next year’s general election for Tusk to convince voters to give him a third term as PM.

A day after the EU Parliament elected Jean-Claude Juncker to head the European Commission, the 28 EU leaders gathered in Brussels on 16 July to discuss who will become the next European Council President and EU's foreign affairs chief.

The summit however was a failure, as Eastern EU countries argued that no decision could be taken on the two senior positions before they knew what portfolios would be assigned to "their" national commissioners.

In what appears to be a complex puzzle, EU leaders agreed to meet again at the end of August to agree on a "package" of appointments. In the meantime, each member country has been asked to put forward their candidate for the Commission.

The Commission is subject, as a body, to a vote of approval of the European Parliament. The College of Commissioners is then formally appointed by the European Council acting by qualified majority.

>> Read our LinksDossier EU Top Jobs: Who is next? and topic page on EU Top Jobs

  • 28 Aug.: EU ambassadors meet to prepare the extraordinary EU summit;
  • 30 Aug.: Extraordinary EU summit;
  • First and second week of September: Juncker tables list of Commissioners, of attributions;
  • October: European Parliament votes to approve or reject new Commission College as a whole
  • 1 Nov.: Target date for the new Commission to take office

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