Poland. The relationship between Conservative President Lech Kaczyński and Liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk remained tense during the year. The big battle issue was the fight against corruption. Lech Kaczyński’s twin brother Jarosław Kaczyński set up during his time as prime minister the anti-corruption agency CBA, which was accused by the new government’s supporters of conducting political witch-hunting. Several politicians within the ruling Citizens’ Platform were singled out in a corruption legacy called the Blackjack Gate. They were suspected of contacts with forces trying to stop a bill on tax increases on gambling. A number of designated politicians resigned but at the same time denied the allegations. In October, both the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior and the Deputy Minister of Finance left their posts. According to countryaah, Prime Minister Tusk then decided to replace the head of the CBA, Mariusz Kaminski, who had led the corruption hunt against the politicians within Tusk’s party. Kaminski was prosecuted for violating his powers, and a parliamentary commission would investigate Blackjackgate. Tusk promised that the tax increases on gaming operations would be implemented.
When President Barack Obama announced in September that the United States had decided to scrap the old plans for a robot shield located in Poland (and the Czech Republic), Poland’s reactions were mixed. At the Conservative president’s office, people first spoke of failure, but Prime Minister Tusk later explained that Poland saw the new plans for a mobile missile defense as interesting and ready to participate.
During the year, Poland led nine countries from the former Eastern bloc in opposition to the EU’s unified proposal for the international climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Among other things, it was considered that Brussels allocated Poland too few allowances, which also the EU court agreed in its ruling in September. Poland also opposed the Swedish EU Presidency’s proposal on how funding for the poor world climate measures should be distributed within the EU. Poland considered that the burden should be distributed according to GDP size. In addition, they were required to use unused allowances that they did not need to use in the so-called Kyoto Protocol. A compromise was concluded by writing that other EU countries should assist them by the Union members who have problems with climate financing.
In September, Parliament passed a law forcing the chemical castration of men convicted of rape on children under 15 or incest. In November, the president signed the law, which thus became the first of its kind in Europe. The law came into being since a man was arrested for having had his daughter as a sex slave for years.
On September 1, a ceremony outside Gdańsk was held for the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. Heads of government from all over Europe participated, including from Moscow and Berlin, where the two main enemies were. Prime Minister Tusk wrote a letter to Europe’s leaders during the year calling for support for an upgrading of the museum at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz outside Kraków that was about to expire.
Poland was the only EU country that looked to see growth in the economy during the year. In the first three quarters, GDP grew by 0.8, 1.1 and 1.7 percent, respectively. Nevertheless, Poland was so affected by the economic crisis that in July the government decided to roll out plans for euro accession in 2012. A new and longer timetable must be worked out. Unemployment was around 12 percent during the summer.
In the EU parliamentary elections in June, the ruling Citizens’ Platform more than doubled its voting share to over 44 percent, taking half of Poland’s 50 seats. The right-wing party Family League, which came second in the last EU elections in Poland, now fell out of the European Parliament. The newly elected EU parliamentarians appointed Poland’s former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek in July as new president. He thus became the first politician from the former Eastern bloc to lead the European Parliament.
In April, at least 21 people died in a fire in a shelter for homeless people in Kamień Pomorski outside Świnoujście.
Negotiations on membership
Poland applied for membership in the European Union in 1994 and in 1997 joined the first group of candidate countries for new members. The negotiations were hard and complicated, but Poland succeeded in obtaining long transitional arrangements, including in the environmental field. The agreement signed in 2003 was put to the referendum 7 – 8. June the same year. The result was that 77.6 percent voted for membership.
Together with nine other countries, Poland joined the EU on 1 May 2004.
On the Polish side, efforts are being made to strengthen the EU’s military capabilities and to increase cooperation between the EU and NATO. Poland is concerned that developments in euro cooperation must not lead to a block sharing in the EU. Poland chaired the EU in the second half of 2011.
Support from the EU to Poland
Poland is the Member State that will receive the most support from the EU in the 2014-2020 budget period – a total of € 206 billion, including € 28.4 billion for agriculture.
Poland in the EEA
As an EU member, Poland is part of the EEA. The country has since 2004 been the largest recipient of EEA funds, see the article Poland’s relations with Norway.
Poles in EU positions
Former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek was the first politician from the new Member States to become President of the European Parliament. He was president from July 2009 to January 2012.
Donald Tusk was President of the European Council from December 1, 2014 to November 30, 2019. He was the first from the new EU countries elected to this position.
Poland acceded to the Schengen agreement in 2007. The Border Control Agency FRONTEX is headquartered in Warsaw.
The Party of Law and Justice, which has held power in Poland since 2015, believes that joining the eurozone will not benefit the Polish economy .
Further enlargement of the EU
Like the other Visegrad countries, Poland supports EU membership for the six Western Balkan countries that are not yet members: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
EU cooperation under the government started from the Party of Law and Justice
After Andrzej Duda of the Party of Law and Justice (PiS) was elected president in 2015 and that party formed a majority government in the same year, Poland has pursued a more EU-critical policy. The President has also criticized the former Liberal government for failing to vote against a proposal to relocate 66,000 refugees, including 5,000 to Poland, at a meeting of EU Home Affairs Ministers in September 2015. The government has made it clear that Poland will not be pressured to accept more refugees. Representatives of the European Commission have criticized Poland for pursuing too strict policies in this field.
The European Commission has also been strongly critical of the government’s media policy and the Law of 29 December 2005 on the Constitutional Court, see articles Mass Media in Poland and Poland’s political system.