0464-European Union

Premier Mark Rutte bij een top in Brussel vorige maand.

Chistian Democrats & Democrats 1966: “When Rutte leaves, the cabinet falls”

Government parties Christian Democrats and Democrats 1966 want new elections when VVD Prime Minister Mark Rutte leaves next year mid-term to Brussels for a European top function. That means high-ranking sources in the coalition. As far as the two largest government partners of Rutte are concerned, a mid-term departure would not be without consequences. Then the cabinet falls, they warn. “Theoretically, new elections are not necessary. But it would be undesirable to do such a major intervention in the cabinet without elections”, says a high ranking D66 member. A high-ranking CDA member of the coalition is certainly: “If Rutte goes to Brussels, there will certainly be elections. This is what Rutte also realizes, so he will think three times. But the pressure from 27 countries can be so great that there is no other option.”

About he future of Rutte has been speculations for months. After the European elections of next spring, the post of President of the European Commission will be vacant. It is now being filled by Luxembourger Jean-Claude Juncker. Rutte is also tipped to succeed Donald Tusk as President of the European Union at the end of next year.

Longest-serving government leader
That Rutte’s name always pops up is because he is one of the longest-serving government leaders in the EU. Moreover, he has a lot of experience in closing complex coalitions. Something that the union, which is sometimes divided to the bone, desperately needs. Rutte himself has said on several occasions that there is no question of traveling to Brussels for a top job. ,,I am finishing this period and see if I am available again for a new period”, said Rutte last spring. There is a struggle between the European Parliament and the EU heads of government on the follow-up of Juncker. The parliament thinks that one of the so-called ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ (list leaders in the European elections) should get this position. The government leaders themselves want to keep a finger on the composition of the daily management of the union in Brussels.

0290-Poland vs EU

Poles in shock as PM carries out sweeping reshuffle ahead of EU showdown

A number of high-profile ministers in the Polish government have been sacked in a sweeping overhaul of the country’s cabinet seen as an attempt to reform the country’s international image left battered by a series of bruising conflicts with the EU. The ministers of foreign affairs, defence, health and agriculture were among those who lost their jobs in the shake-up, the extent of which caught many Poles by surprise. It also came just hours before Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, was due to fly to Brussels to meet Jean Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, to discuss rule of law proceedings against Poland.

“This is a new government for a new and better Poland,” said Mr Morawiecki when announcing the changes. “For us the most important matter is to build a strong and safe Poland, both at its borders and within in borders.” Mr Morawiecki, an English-speaking ex-banker who only became prime minister last month, is also seen as part of a diplomatic offensive to enhance the country’s reputation. Poland has become the enfant terrible of the EU owing to numerous disputes between it and Brussels on matters such as rule of law, the environment and migration. The country became the first EU state to face the possible loss of voting rights after the EU triggered Article 7 owing to fears a government overhaul of the legal system threatened the independence of the judiciary. But despite the threats from the EU Warsaw appears happy to defy Brussels in its desire to put what it considers Poland’s interests first.  Yet the appointment of a new prime minister and Tuesday’s cabinet changes appear, in part, to be motivated by a desire to soften and lighten the tone of the Polish government abroad, although few expect its core message to change.

Among those to face the chop was Jan Szyszko, the agriculture minister. Mr Szyszko triggered an international scandal by overseeing increase in logging in the Bialowieza Forest, one of the last significant tracts of primeval lowland forest left in Europe. Despite the threat of financial penalties from the EU if the logging was not halted, and Mr Szyszko persisted with the policy. He will join Witold Waszczykowski, the former foreign minister, and ex-defence minister Antoni Macierewicz in the political long grass. Mr Waszczykowski had become known as gaffe-prone, while Mr Macierewicz, despite being a fierce ally of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, had clashed with the Polish president over the appointment of army commanders. Political experts in Poland pointed out that by dismissing the three ministers, Mr Kaczynski had removed figures who had become focal points of opposition criticism. By cutting out apparent weaknesses in the government Mr Kaczynski may also have one eye on the next general election, due in 2019.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki poses with his cabinet after a sweeping reshuffle. A showdown with the EU is looming