Politics & Economics

Tusk returns to polish leadership, prioritising rule of law to mend Brussels relations

December 2023
By Maximilian Powell

Donald Tusk took office as Poland’s new prime minister on Wednesday (13 December), pledging that his government would adhere to the country’s constitution. This focus on the rule of law aims to mend relations with Brussels, which became severely strained during the eight years of PiS governance.

Tusk has been in Brussels this week to take part in the European Council representing Poland, an institution he knows well as he headed the European Council from 2014 to 2019.

With Tusk returning, the EPP gains another seat in the Council. This also carries significant implications for the qualified majority requirement (55% of member states, representing at least 65% of the EU population, voting in favor) in the Council. With a population of nearly 38 million people, Poland ranks as the 5th largest EU member state and, therefore, wields significant power.

Notably, this means the EPP will have more negotiating power for Europe’s top jobs in the next mandate, and a loss of leverage for the ECR. However, given that PiS has emerged as Poland’s largest party, it is possible that they will continue to hold a substantial number of seats in the next European Parliament.

The new PM this week laid out his government’s plan, pledging significant change after eight years of nationalist governance. The proposals involve enhancing relations with the European Union and committing to restoring the rule of law, a focal point of a prolonged dispute with Brussels.

The new governing coaltion encompasses three parties: Civic Coalition, led by Donald Tusk; the Third Way, a grouping of the Poland 2050 party and the Polish People’s Party (PSL); and the Left. Despite ideological differences within his coalition, Tusk has assured better access to legal abortions for women. Additionally, he has pledged support for Ukraine and to remain a staunch ally of the United States and NATO. The annoucment of Tusk’s plans coincided with the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling, which found Poland in violation of the rights of same-sex couples by denying them legal recognition and protection.