Poland-EU relations heading for reset as new government expected following elections

Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister addresses supporters at his party headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023.
Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister addresses supporters at his party headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. Copyright Petr David Josek/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Vincenzo Genovese
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A change of government in Poland is now highly likely following a vote on Sunday that saw the highest turnout in the country's post-Soviet history.


The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) may have come out on top when it comes to votes received, but the Civic Coalition, led by former European Council President Donald Tusk, looks set to have an overall majority of seats in the Polish Parliament.

The probable new government will certainly mark a change from the populist and nationalist policies of PiS, which saw eight years of troubled relations with Brussels, as well as areas of regression when it comes to the independence of the judiciary and media freedom.

Much of Poland's recent battles with the EU involved these issues. Monika Sus, an associate professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences, told Euronews all of this is likely to be reversed.

"They will definitely try, first of all, to, let's say, get Poland back on the light of democracy, so the judiciary system will be freed. The press will be again, free. And of course, also rights for minorities will be reinstated," Sus said.

"This would help the relationship with the European Union, after eight years of a conservative and nationalist government. I think that Poland will be, again, a reliable partner within the European Union. We will definitely try to have better relationships with our neighbours."

But some of Civic Coalition's positions could be in line with those of PiS, albeit with slight differences. 

Polish support for Ukraine will almost certainly remain strong, but according to Teona Lavrelashvili, a policy analyst at the European Policy Centre, tensions with Brussels on migration could continue.

"There are many concerns in the country related to migration, but also to security that Tusk has to deal with at the domestic level," Lavrelashvili told Euronews.

"And we know that also his [Tusk's] stance on migration is not necessarily positive when we speak about the [EU's] obligatory relocation mechanism. 

"However, the way he will present it and how he will engage constructively with European decision-makers, of course, will be different."

Tusk has a huge challenge ahead of himself though when it comes to managing a coalition formed by parties from different backgrounds, with one (Third Way) from the centre-right and the other a left-wing party (The Left).

"There will be internal disputes, I think, but I think they would rather contain internal issues, for example, abortion," Sus told Euronews.

"So, on abortion, of course, each of the three parties is much more flexible, much more open towards accommodating women's rights than the current government."

"But there are still differences between them, ranging from 'let's liberalise abortion totally' to 'let's have some rules and let's work on that, but we cannot liberalise abortion fully'."

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