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POLAND: EC President elected

The European Parliament has approved Ursula von der Leyen as the new President of the European Commission. Poland’s ruling PiS party supported von der Leyen, but this was uncertain until the last moments. Reportedly it was votes of Polish MEPs that pushed the new EC President over the finish line and some journalists reported that three phone calls were exchanged between PM Morawiecki and Chancellor Merkel ahead of the vote. Still, it is not known what Poland has negotiated in exchange, with the main possibility being the easing  of tensions between Warsaw and the EC on rule of law issues.

This is especially important in the context of ex-PM Beata Szydło losing a second vote for Chair of the EP’s Employment Committee. The second lost vote was a surprise for PiS as it came after talks of party leader Jarosław Kaczyński with CDU representatives. The opposition in Poland argues that Szydło’s loss is symbolic of Warsaw’s deteriorating position in Brussels. Still, now that von der Leyen has been approved the negotiations on Commissioner appointments will begin. If PiS receives a prominent position in the EC, the party will have its silver lining and may retreat from the narrative that Poland is being punished in Brussels for political differences.