European Council President Donald Tusk has lashed out at Poland, suggesting the ruling Law & Justice party is forwarding Russian interests in what is an unprecedented attack by an EU leader on a member state’s sitting government.
“Strident dispute with Ukraine, isolation in the European Union, walking away from rule of law and judicial independence, attack on non-governmental sector and free media,” Tusk wrote on his personal Twitter account on Sunday. “Law & Justice strategy or Kremlin plan? Too similar to sleep well.”
Tusk’s tweet is the latest salvo in a war of words between Poland and the EU, as fears mount in Brussels that Warsaw’s government is shifting toward authoritarian rule. It also adds to speculation that the 60-year-old former Polish prime minister plans a comeback to domestic politics when his term as chairman of EU leaders’ meetings expires in 2019, the same year that current parliament and government’s term ends in Poland.
On Friday, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo criticized her fellow leaders and lawmakers from the bloc for weighing sanctions against the nation over anti-democratic actions and suggested they weren’t being honest. The European Parliament said last week it would examine possible sanctions against Poland over democratic backsliding. That opens a second EU front against Warsaw after the European Commission last year initiated a rule-of-law investigation into the right-wing Law & Justice party due to judicial independence concerns.
The EU Parliament tasked one of its committees with laying the groundwork for a vote on whether to ask national governments to trigger Article 7 of the EU treaty against Poland that foresees the possibility of stripping a member country of its voting rights. Poland poses “a clear risk of a serious breach” of EU values, the 28-nation assembly said in a resolution approved after a heated debate in Strasbourg, France.
“As EU Council President, Donald Tusk has done nothing for Poland,” Szydlo said on Sunday. “Today, he’s using his position to attack the Polish government and Poland.”
Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Szydlo Thursday, according to his agenda issued on Sunday. Macron and Szydlo will speak to the press after the meeting.