Polish rival to Tusk for top EU job quits EPP
PR dla Zagranicy
Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, who is being backed by Warsaw against his countryman Donald Tusk for President of the European Council, said on Monday he has quit the European People's Party (EPP).
Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. Photo: PAP/Maciej Kulczyński
Meanwhile, the centre-right grouping, the largest in the European Parliament, said that Saryusz-Wolski has been stripped of his role as vice president of the party.
The moves come after Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party backed Saryusz-Wolski to run for the top EU post against former Polish Prime Minister Tusk.
Tusk, who has been fiercely criticised by Law and Justice, is supported by the EPP in his bid for a second term as European Council President, whose key role is chairing EU summits.
Tusk’s 30-month term in the job is due to end on 31 May.
Excluded from PO
Saryusz-Wolski has been an MEP for Poland's Civic Platform (PO) party since 2004. On Saturday the leaders of the opposition PO decided to exclude him from the group.
Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński said in January that Poland should not support Tusk's bid for a second term.
Kaczyński said that Tusk was in favour of financial penalties for European Union member states that do not accept a quota of refugees, a measure that the Polish government strongly opposes.
EU member states are set to vote on whether to re-elect Tusk at a Brussels summit on 9-10 March.
Tusk 'sided with opposition'
Polish government spokesman Rafał Bochenek on Monday claimed that Tusk had proved unable to deal with the migration crisis buffeting Europe, and accused him of siding with the opposition in Poland instead of remaining neutral amid a bitter domestic political dispute.
"We cannot imagine that any person, especially someone who comes from Poland, could be selected for this function contrary to the position of the Polish government," Bochenek said.
Law and Justice swept to power in late 2015, ousting Tusk’s Civic Platform party, which had been in government for eight years.