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Poland: The dispute between the President and the government could impact Polish foreign policy

Duda vs Task

The government plans to appoint a new ambassador without obtaining the approval of the President. The nomination has just been favorably reviewed by the Sejm’s foreign affairs committee. According to the Polish Constitution, the President appoints new ambassadors, but the government is responsible for foreign policy.

The President, however, says he should be the one to name the candidate for ambassador to NATO. This was also the practice so far, that the candidacies of new ambassadors went to the commission meeting only after they were agreed upon with the President. At the same time, he pointed out that the ambassador should not be recalled before the NATO summit, which is to be held in mid-July in Washington.

The conflict may also affect Polish candidates for key positions in the European Union.

The Competency law, which was adopted during the rule of the Law and Justice party, assumes that candidacies for important positions in the European Union will require the President’s approval. The positions of the European Commission commissioners are among them.

Since February, there have been claims that the candidate for the newly created post of defense commissioner could be the current foreign affairs minister, Radoslaw Sikorski. At that time, Ursula von der Leyen announced the idea of appointing a new post to the new European Commission – defense commissioner.

The new commissioner’s terms of reference have not yet been defined, but its scope will certainly include the defense industry, security operations, and aero and space issues. Already in 2019, a separate Directorate-General dedicated to defense and space, DG DEFIS, was created under the Internal Market Commissioner.

Von der Leyen has not yet specified the nationality of the candidate but admitted that the issues are essential for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Sikorski may seem like a severe candidate, having already been proposed as a head of EU diplomacy or NATO Secretary General. Sikorski himself has so far avoided commenting on his possible trip to Brussels. Much depends on the location of the new commissioner’s post, his competencies, and whether he will be given his own budget, enabling him to manage the area of defense, munitions production, research, and development in this area on his own.

President Duda may refuse to approve Sikorsky due to disputes over the staffing of Polish ambassadors’ posts, which require cooperation between the Foreign Ministry and the President. It is said unofficially that Prime Minister Tusk and the entire government will not respect the provisions of the Competency law, as they consider them unconstitutional. Another dispute in Poland over competencies between the government and the President could, therefore, block Sikorski’s chances of taking up a new post in the European Union, as well as could paralyze Polish foreign policy, preventing the government from conducting an effective personnel policy.

Łukasz Wojdyga
Łukasz Wojdyga, Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Warsaw, Poland

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