Timmermans and Poland’s new foreign minister dig for common ground

New Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz during EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 22 January 2018. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

Poland’s new foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, and European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans met for the first time in Brussels, where they spoke about the rule of law in Poland and the issue of refugees. EURACTIV Poland reports.

On Sunday evening (21 January), Czaputowicz and Timmermans met for around two hours, after the Polish side requested a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker’s right-hand man.

“This was our first conversation, but it was a very good one, we will continue our talks in the future,” said Czaputowicz after the meeting.

Timmermans, who is responsible for rule of law issues and the much-discussed Article 7 process, which would strip Poland of its Council voting rights, wrote on Twitter that he was glad to have met the new minister

“We discussed the issue of the Rule of Law in Poland and I’m looking forward to continuing this dialogue in Warsaw and Brussels,” the Dutch Commissioner said.

Czaputowicz: “We’re right”

“I said how we see it, it [the Constitutional Court] is fully legal. We also agreed to further consultations at expert level and I invited Frans Timmermans to Warsaw,” said Czaputowicz on Polish news channel TVP Info.

“We believe that we are right and that the judicial reform process is taking place in accordance with European Union standards,” he insisted. “We are looking for what unites us and we are trying to solve this problem together,” he added.

The Polish foreign minister said that the talks were also about matters concerning refugee policy. “Mr Timmermans wanted Poland to get involved in border protection issues, which is also in line with our policy,” Czaputowicz stressed.

Poland sticking to its 'zero-refugee' policy

While migrant relocations reached record levels this year (peaking in June with over 3,000) Poland and Hungary remained steadfast in their refusal to participate in EU-mandated resettlement efforts. EURACTIV Poland reports.

No concessions in sight

Czaputowicz already warned on Friday that after the Sunday meeting “one should not expect any decisions, because that is not the point”. At that time, he emphasised that he wanted to make direct contact with Timmermans and start the conversation about Article 7 and “show openness”.

When asked about the readiness of the Polish government to make concessions, he stated that the law was introduced and will be implemented in the coming months. “It is difficult to say that at this stage Poland could make any concessions,” he admitted.

Germany and Poland to explore revived 'Weimar Triangle'

On Wednesday (17 January), Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz met with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin. The ministers spoke about the dispute over the rule of law in Poland, the future of the EU and a possible revival of the Weimar Triangle. EURACTIV Poland reports.

However, he pointed out that if in the future the Court of Justice would issued judgments requiring the improvement of the law on the judiciary, it “should not be approached emotionally and maybe some changes could be made.”

Poland’s will to continue dialogue

The Polish foreign ministry added that yesterday’s conversation in Brussels was preceded by a meeting between Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and was “aimed at intensifying Poland’s dialogue with the Commission”.

New head of the Polish Permanent Representation to the EU

During the evening press conference in Brussels, Czaputowicz also announced that Andrzej Sadoś is going to be the new head of the Polish Permanent Representation to the EU.

The previous head of this institution, Jarosław Starzyk, resigned at the beginning of October last year. Officially, it was for personal reasons but the media reported unofficially that it was about his cooperation with the Communist military services, which he concealed while completing the lustration declaration.

Sadoś, a 45-year-old graduate of the Faculty of Law and Administration at the University of Warsaw, in 2007 was deputy minister of foreign affairs in Jarosław Kaczyński’s government, and earlier, from 2006, a spokesman of the then head of the Polish diplomacy, Anna Fotyga.

Sebastian Barkowski, deputy Permanent Representative of Poland to the EU, who temporarily served as the head of the institution, remains in his post as deputy.

Bulgaria joins Poland in court case against Commission-led crackdown on coal

Bulgaria will join Poland in an appeal against a European Commission decision to impose stricter limits on toxic pollutants coal-fired plants emit, the government said on Wednesday (10 January).

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