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POLAND: Polish MEP loses EP vice-presidency

Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki from the ruling PiS party has lost his position as vice-president of the European Parliament. The decision came after Czarnecki referred to an MEP from PO by a Polish word describing Nazi collaborators during WW2. Yesterday, a total of 447 EP parliamentarians voted for dismissal, while 196 opposed the move. In the past weeks and days, Czarnecki fought hard to keep his position, launching a campaign across Brussels to defend his name. Following the vote, he argued that a dangerous precedent has been set, as the freedom of speech in domestic political disputes has been infringed by the EP.

While Czarnecki lost his post, PiS did not actually lose their vice-presidential seat – currently there are 14 equally distributed among parties. A successor from the same party will be appointed during the next EP session. This situation is bound to fit well into PiS’ narrative domestically; by dismissing Czarnecki the EP has provided ammunition for the government to paint Brussels as being ‘out to get’ Polish representatives. This is especially important in the context of ongoing Article 7 procedures or even the reaction of the bloc to the recent Polish-Israeli dispute. While Czarnecki lost personally, it is unlikely that PiS loses out due to this decision.