The Polish industrial sector has a broad base; in the country, wood products, furniture, food, metal products, machinery and vehicles are manufactured. Industrial production is usually strong, partly due to a large domestic market and extensive exports to other EU countries, not least Germany.
The fact that the Polish industry is strong was evident in the years after 2008, when Europe suffered through both the financial crisis and the economic crisis within the euro zone. Between 2005 and 2014, the country’s industrial income increased by an average of 5 percent annually. An important reason for the good results is also that the major political parties have basically agreed on the policies affecting the manufacturing industry and advocated an EU- and free-trade-friendly line.
The heavy industry of the Communist era was based on the Polish assets of coal, copper, sulfur, lime and imported iron ore and crude oil. At the collapse of the planning economy in 1989, large parts of that industry were outdated and were characterized by low productivity, high costs, low quality and high environmental impact.
The transition to a market economy that started in the early 1990s mainly benefited the light industry and the food industry, as well as the trade and service sectors, all of which developed rapidly. Privatization and start-ups were the fastest in sectors where investment did not have to be very expensive. Many mines and companies in the metallurgical, shipbuilding and mechanical industries did not survive the competition in a market economy. The impact on the environment has eased, but Poland remains dependent on coal for electricity generation and heat, and has opposed international measures that would limit the use of coal to reduce climate impact.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Poland. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
Car manufacturing is one of the most industrialized industries since the communist era, and especially after the entry of the EU. It accounts for just over a tenth of industrial production and one-sixth of exports.
In many cases, the privatizations and restructuring of the state-owned large companies caused controversy. During the early 1990s, thousands of jobs in coal mines and steel mills disappeared every year. This often led to strikes and protests.
When the transformation started, the lack of knowledge (especially of market-savvy business executives), substandard infrastructure (for example, bad telecommunications) and bureaucracy with complicated legislation were some of the biggest problems. While market economy knowledge increased rapidly, major investments in infrastructure and in reducing bureaucracy are still needed.
An example of the importance of foreign investment today is Volkswagen, which has four factories in Poland and up to 11,000 Poles employed until the corona crisis. Many Polish companies are also subcontractors to German car companies. The downside is a reliance on large companies that raised some concern even before the corona crisis, as international competition between car manufacturers is fierce. But even in that light, companies in Poland are expected to do better than similar industries in neighboring countries, as Poland has a larger domestic market.
HD judge accuses government of coup
Chief Judge Małgorzata Gersdorf, in an open letter, accuses the government of a “coup” against the Supreme Court through the new law that lowers the retirement age for judges from 70 to 65 – while giving the president the right to decide whether a judge may remain after the age of 65. Critics of the law claim that it targets, among other things, Gersdorf, who turned 65 but who has only sat three out of six years in his ordinance.
New defense agreement with the UK
Poland signs a new defense agreement with the UK. It will regulate bilateral cooperation in connection with the UK’s departure from the EU in March 2019. The agreement contains agreements on joint exercises, exchange of intelligence and more. British troops are deployed in Poland as part of NATO’s military alliance’s strengthened protection of the EU border eastward toward Russia.
The EU initiates the sanctions process
The EU Commission proposes to the EU Council of Ministers that Article 7 of the EU Treaty be activated against Poland, which means that the country may lose its voting rights in the EU’s decision-making institutions. The reason is the judicial reforms adopted by the Polish parliament. While the government believes that these reforms are needed to clear out old judges and jurists from the communist era and to counter corruption, the EU believes that they are restricting the independence of the Polish judiciary. This is the first time an Article 7 procedure has been initiated against a Member State. Poland now has three months to follow the EU’s recommendations not to implement the reforms, otherwise the Member States can vote to waive Poland’s right to vote. However, all EU members must vote yes for this to happen. Polish President Duda reacts strongly to the EU:
The Sejm adopts disputed electoral laws
Parliament’s subjugation seeks to adopt a series of electoral laws that have received sharp criticism from the opposition and the EU for undermining the country’s democratic system. If the legislative amendments are also approved by the Senate and the President, they will come into force after the next parliamentary elections in 2019. The legislative amendments mean, among other things, that the composition of the electoral commission will be changed so that Parliament can elect seven members who do not have to be judges. Today, the Election Commission consists of nine judges from the country’s three highest courts. The amendments to the law also mean that the Minister of the Interior has the right to appoint three candidates for the post of head of the national electoral authority as well as candidates for the post of election commissioners.
Reconciliation meeting with Ukraine
13th of December
President Duda visits Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine and the two presidents agree to try to curb a dispute over massacres committed during World War II, when Ukrainian and Polish forces fought each other. The insanity has recently been raised in the parliaments and has resulted in the demolition of historical monuments. The issue of opening graves to identify the victims of the massacres is sensitive.
The new government is approved by Parliament
Parliament approves the new PiS government with Mateusz Morawiecki as new Prime Minister and former Prime Minister Beata Szydło as Deputy Prime Minister. Otherwise, no changes are made to the government.
No changes in Morawiecki’s new government
Economy and Development Minister Mateusz Morawiecki installed as prime minister and will retain responsibility for finance and development issues. Outgoing Head of Government Beata Szydło becomes Deputy Prime Minister. Otherwise, no changes occur within the government.
New legal reforms are adopted
Parliament’s House of Commons, the Sejm, is adopting further reforms that are criticized by both the opposition and the EU for undermining the judiciary’s independence from the government and parliament. The amendments to the law mean that Parliament elects the members of the body that will protect the judicial system from political control and that political control over the Supreme Court is strengthened. According to the PiS government, these reforms are needed partly to correct the corruption and partly because the current judicial system according to PiS is still characterized by the communist era. The laws are to be passed by the House of Parliament and signed by President Duda before they take effect.
Morawiecki is appointed as Government Former
President Duda commissioned Finance Minister Morawiecki to form a new government after Prime Minister Szydło filed his resignation earlier that day as a result of failing support from her own party, the ruling PiS. Morawiecki is expected to be formally elected prime minister within a few days. Morawiecki says when he is appointed as a government official that the PiS government’s political program remains firm, while his government will give priority to improving the economy, raising the country’s security and strengthening Poland’s international relations.
Prime Minister Szydło resigns
Prime Minister Beata Szydło submits her resignation application since it is clear that she lacks sufficient support within her own party PiS. A few hours earlier, her government has passed a vote of confidence in Parliament, by a good margin, initiated by the opposition. According to representatives of PiS, she will be replaced by Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who is an economist. His task will be to improve the economy and relations with the EU and the US. PiS also believes he can attract middle voters in the elections to be held in 2019.
The EU sues Poland for resistance to refugee quotas
The European Commission sues Poland (as well as the Czech Republic and Hungary) before the European Court of Justice for refusing to follow the decision of the EU Council of Ministers in September 2015 that all member states should share the responsibility for around 160,000 refugees who were then in Greece also Italy. Based on the countries’ population and economic situation, a quota system was created for how many refugees each country would receive. The PiS government sees the quota as an attempt by Brussels to limit the Poles’ national self-determination. Poland faces fines if it is dropped by the European Court of Justice.
Poland buys US air defense system
Poland has agreed to buy the robot defense system Patriot from the USA. Patriot is a mobile air defense system that can shoot down projectiles and aircraft. The cost is set at $ 10.5 billion, but when a contract is signed in March 2018, Poland has lost the order to $ 4.75 billion, corresponding to about SEK 43 billion.
The European Parliament votes for sanctions against Poland
The European Parliament is voting to prepare for sanctions against Poland because of the government’s plans to strengthen political control over the judiciary. The European Parliament warns that the planned judicial reforms would run counter to EU values, such as the principle of legal certainty. Prime Minister Szydło reacts with anger and calls the vote “outrageous”.
Right-wing nationalists march through Warsaw on Independence Day
Around 60,000 Poles celebrate Independence Day by marching with flags and smoke bombs through Warsaw in a manifestation organized by right-wing nationalists. There are also many conservative PiS supporters in the train. The manifestation is met by anti-fascist counter-demonstrations with an estimated 2,000 participants.
Believers pray for the salvation of Poland
Tens of thousands of Catholics gather at border crossings and on the Baltic coast to pray for the salvation of Poland and the world. Organizers say the prayer is not directed at any group, but many participants say they are praying that Poland should not be destroyed by Muslims. The mass prayer is performed on the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, when a united force from Christian countries defeated the Ottoman Navy.
Women protests against the police
Polish women’s rights organizations protest that police have raided their offices in several cities and seized documents and computers. The raids are carried out the day after thousands of Polish women demonstrated against the country’s strict abortion law. The organizations say their work will be hampered by the seizures made and accuse the authorities of trying to intimidate them into silence. The police claim that it is investigating inaccuracies suspected of being committed by the previous government when it granted state aid to the organizations.
The retirement age is lowered
The government’s election promise to lower the retirement age comes into force. It is reduced from 67 years for all to 60 for women and 65 for men. The government has estimated that the cost of this will correspond to about half a percent of GDP in 2018.
Financial requirements for Germany must be investigated
The government appoints a parliamentary commission to calculate the amount of damages Poland should be able to address to Germany for the devastation during the Second World War. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Interior has previously said that Germany should pay up to EUR 830 billion. The PiS government refuses to approve the agreement signed by the then Communist government and the West German state in 1953 that no more damages were involved. Germany has explicitly stated that it considers the claim to be finalized.
State control of voluntary organizations
Parliament’s lower house adopts a law establishing a new state authority to distribute money to NGOs. The authority shall be attached to the Prime Minister’s Office. Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński says the new authority will secure the financing of small organizations in particular, but opposition parties, such as the Polish Justice Ombudsman and the Helsinki Committee, see a great risk of state control over the organizations’ work. For the law to come into force, it must also be approved by the Supreme Court and the President, which is expected to happen.
German no to new war damages
A suggestion by Prime Minister Szydło that Poland may demand new war damages from Germany is immediately rejected by the German government. It states that Poland and the other countries in the then Warsaw Pact in 1953 signed an agreement to accept the damages they received and demand nothing more. The current Polish government believes that this agreement is not valid because it was signed by orders from the Soviet Union. According to the estimates of the Polish government, the country could claim up to EUR 830 billion from Germany. But a number of high-ranking leaders of the Polish Catholic Church are warning the right-wing government that “bad decisions” are likely to undermine relations with Germany. The bishops are calling for “wise diplomacy” instead of whipping up negative feelings.
Protests against refugee quotas are rejected
The European Court of Justice rejects Hungary and Slovakia’s protest against the quotas for the distribution of refugees within the Union decided by the European Commission. The Court finds that the quotas are designed to relieve the burden on the major beneficiary countries Greece and Italy jointly. The decision cannot be appealed. Of the 160,000 refugees to be distributed among EU countries in September 2015, almost 28,000 were received by other countries. Hungary’s quota was 1,294 and Slovakia’s 802. Hungary has not received one of these and Slovakia only a dozen. Poland had not appealed to the court but also refuses to accept allowance refugees. The Hungarian government describes the court decision as “irresponsible” and a threat to the security of Europe as a whole. The Slovak and Polish governments say that their resistance to receiving refugees from other EU countries is firm.
New Polish no to the EU
When the deadline falls for Poland to tear up the judicial reforms criticized by the EU, the government informs the European Commission that the new laws “comply with European standards” and that no decisions should be withdrawn. Since France’s President Macron said that Poland is countering Europe’s interests, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel joins the open critics. She says she can no longer silence and look at how Poland is eroding the justice system. Merkel says she looks very seriously at the issue and that she should discuss it with the EU Commission President Juncker. Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro comments that Merkel’s comments are politically motivated and not based on facts.
Defamatory French criticism of Poland
French President Emmanuel Macron accuses the Polish government of counteracting Europe’s interests and says that Poland is likely to end up in the EU’s borders in the future. Macron is trying to persuade Eastern European member states to agree to change the rule (EU Posting Directive) that allows companies in low-wage countries to send workers to the wealthier member states for up to two years without paying social security contributions for them. Macron and several other European leaders believe that this leads to unfair competitive conditions. But while countries like Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have hinted that they can agree on changed conditions, the Polish government refuses to accept new rules. Poland has about half a million workers in Polish companies abroad. Prime Minister Szydło dismisses Macron as “arrogant” but says it may be due to his ”
Presidential veto on general appointments
For the second time in a short time, President Duda vetoes a government proposal. He refuses to approve about ten generals nominated by the government and refers to ambiguities in the order of command in the government’s planned military leadership reform. Analysts hear the view that Duda is keen to mark both his independence as head of state and his formal position as commander-in-chief. There are large gaps in the top layer of the defense. About a quarter of the top officers have left their posts following PiS election victory in 2015, in many cases following disagreement with the Minister of Defense.
Tusk in new hearing about the Smolensk crash
For the second time in a short time, former Prime Minister Donald Tusk is being questioned by prosecutors in Warsaw in connection with the new investigation into the 2010 Smolensk air disaster, when 96 people from the community elite died, including then-President Lech Kaczyński. Tusk says that he is obviously subject to a personal attack by the PiS government and that the government’s behavior in a number of issues makes the country’s future in the EU questionable.
Legal reforms before the courts
The European Commission is launching a judicial process against the Polish government’s attempt to undermine the independence of the courts. The Commission considers that the decision to give the Minister of Justice the right to appoint and dismiss judges is contrary to the EU acquis. Similarly, the Commission faces one of the new laws forcing female judges to retire at age 60 and male at 65. The Polish government has a month to respond to the criticism.
The EU orders a stop for forest harvesting
The European Court of Justice orders the Polish government to immediately halt the harvesting of forests in the world-class Białowieża forest. The decision is formally temporary and is valid until a final decision is made, which can take months or years. However, the Minister for the Environment quickly responds that felling should continue while the government is preparing a response to the court.
Kaczyński promises “radical” legal reform
Poland’s actual leader Jarosław Kaczyński says President Duda made a “very serious mistake” by stopping two laws about changes in the judiciary. He says that the work on radical changes in the justice system will continue, so that the setback becomes “a quickly forgotten incident”.
The Third Court Act is approved
President Duda approves the third controversial law to change the courts, after vetoing two other laws. He signs the law that the Minister of Justice has the right to substitute chief judges at lower courts and the appellate courts.
Surprising presidential veto
President Duda refuses to approve two of the three laws on the judiciary that Parliament has just passed. He vetoed the proposal that Parliament should appoint the members of the National Judicial Council and the law that the government should appoint the members of the HD and that the current members of the Supreme Court should be forced to resign. This means that both laws are sent back to Parliament for rework. Then a two-thirds majority is required for them to be adopted, and that force does not have the PiS government. Duda suggests that he would like to approve the Justice Minister’s right to dismiss judges in lower courts. The president’s decision surprises most, as he is supposed to do exactly as PiS wants, and is welcomed by the opposition. The president says he agrees with the government on the need to reform the judiciary but that the proposals were not compatible with the constitution. He also says he wanted to avoid increased fragmentation in Polish society.
Senate adopts law reform, continued protests
The Senate House of Senate also adopts the law to replace Supreme Court members with members appointed by the government. Now it remains for the president to sign the law within 21 days for it to take effect. While the Senate is debating the bill, thousands of people are demonstrating outside the building. Several hundred gathered outside PiS leader Kaczyński’s residence to protest. Former President Lech Wałęsa calls on the Polish people to “by all means” defend the democracy created in 1989. Even from the EU and the US, criticism continues against the Polish government’s attempt to take control of the judiciary. By contrast, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán joins the PiS and promises to defend Poland against the EU’s “inquisition”.
Big protests against HD teams
Tens of thousands of people are demonstrating in cities around the country against the parliament’s lower house adopting the law that gives the sejm the right to appoint all members of the Supreme Court. Prime Minister Szydlo says the government’s intention is to reform the judiciary so that it becomes faster and more efficient and serves all Poles. She says the government does not intend to give in to threats from those who work “in the interests of the elite”. The opposition describes the overthrow of the judiciary as a form of coup d’état paving the way for an undemocratic system. President Duda rejects a proposal by President Donald Tusk – former prime minister of Poland – of a meeting to discuss the crisis.
The EU demands protection for journalists
The European Commission calls on the Polish authorities to stop threatening journalists who have criticized the right-wing nationalist government. The EU demands that the PiS government respects the freedom of the media. The Commission’s Vice-President responds that a Polish reporter based in Brussels has been accused of state TV for damaging her country, and that she has subsequently been exposed to threats on social media.
The EU is sharpening its tone
EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans says the Union is “very close” to resorting to Article 7 of the EU Treaty and withdrawing its voting rights in the Council of Ministers. He demands that Poland immediately stop the process of putting the judiciary under government control. President Duda surprisingly refuses to sign the laws passed by Parliament unless a provision is introduced that at least 60 percent of the members support the election of members of the National Judicial Council. Such a rule would deprive PiS of the possibility of determining the composition of the Council on its own. PiS leader Kaczyński says that the EU should stop interfering in Poland’s internal affairs and that the warning from the EU is politically conditional.
Protests against court laws
About 17,000 people take part in a protest demonstration organized by the Polish judiciary Iustitia outside the Supreme Court building in Warsaw. Earlier in the day, up to 10,000 people had demonstrated outside Parliament. In both cases, the participants objected to the new laws which they regard as a threat to the independence of the judiciary. The dominant opposition parties PO and Moderna say that they will fight the new laws with common forces.
The Senate adopts controversial court laws
The Senate approves two new laws relating to the judiciary. One states that Parliament should appoint the members of the National Judicial Council, whose task is to protect the independence of the courts. The second law says that the Minister of Justice appoints the chairmen of the lower courts. Formally, the laws will be signed by President Duda, who is close to the PiS government.
The government wants to redo HD
The PiS government continues to take control of the judiciary. In a bill to Parliament, it proposes that all members of the Supreme Court should be appointed by the government. All current judges should be forced to resign, except those appointed by the Minister of Justice. Opposition leader Schetyna describes the bill as a “message of a coup d’état”, and HD’s current chairman says the court will be turned into a department of the Justice Department. PiS also wants Parliament to appoint the majority of the members of the National Judicial Council who appoint judges at the corresponding district and court courts.
Poland is facing trial for forest harvesting
The European Commission reports Poland to the EU court for the tree-cutting in the Białowieża forest and requests that the court issue a temporary ban on felling. The Polish authorities are given a month to announce how to protect the unique natural values of the forest area.
Protests against logging
Thousands of people take part in a protest in Warsaw against the government’s permitting large-scale tree felling in the Białowieża forest area on the border with Belarus (Belarus). The area has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, but the government believes that the classification was done illegally and wants it to be lifted. According to the government, the harvesting that has been going on since May 2016 takes place to combat an attack on a beetle, but environmental activists claim that it is a sweeping reason for the commercial exploitation of one of Europe’s last forest areas, which is also part of the EU project Natura 2000, which concerns to protect valuable environment. The EU has strongly urged the Polish government to suspend the tree fall in Białowieża.
The EU is taking steps to stop refugees
The EU is launching a legal process against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for the countries refusing to accept refugees in accordance with the redistribution plan adopted by the EU countries. The process begins with the European Commission sending a letter to the respective government and demanding an explanation. Subsequently, the cases may go to the European Court of Justice. In that case, the court hearings are expected to last for several years. If the countries are folded, they can face heavy fines.
Prolonged dialogue on the rule of law
The European Commission agrees to extend the dialogue with the Polish government on its handling of the Constitutional Court and the rule of law.
Deadline for receiving refugees
The EU gives Poland and Hungary a deadline in June to start receiving refugees from the Union’s common quota of 160,000 Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis. The two countries have not received a single quota refugee since the EU made its decision in 2015. The relocation is intended to relieve Greece and Italy, which have been given the heaviest burden. If they do not accept the decision, both countries risk sanctions. The Polish government directly rejects the claim from Brussels.
US military headquarters in Poznań
Hundreds of American soldiers are stationed in Poznań, western Poland, where the United States has built a new headquarters for its new force of more than 6,000 men in NATO’s eastern member states, from Estonia to Bulgaria.
Tusk is asked about the crash in Smolensk
Former Prime Minister Donald Tusk is being interrogated for eight hours in connection with the investigation into the Russian crash in Smolensk 2010. He then says that he considers the whole case as “deeply politicized” and that he intends to invoke his legal immunity from the EU if he concludes that the intent of the case is to make his job as President of the European Council more difficult. PiS leader Kaczyński has said he holds Tusk as “morally responsible” for his brother’s death. In the eye of the investigation, two Polish generals are suspected of contributing to concealing the cause of the crash by entering into an agreement with the Russian security service FSB, unclear as to what. Tusk was prime minister when the air disaster happened.
Accident Investigation Board: “Presidential Plan Exploded”
The new commission investigating the Smolensk aviation disaster in Russia in 2010, when the president and 95 other high-ranking Poles died, say the crash was probably caused by an explosion on board. An earlier investigation blamed the crash on the Polish pilots and Russian air traffic controllers, but the current PiS government, which appointed the new commission, accuses air traffic controllers of deliberately piloting the plane. The government also claims that the then Prime Minister Tusk, now the President of the European Council, and Russian President Putin jointly swept the evidence under the rug. A member of the former Accident Investigation Board dismisses the new information as “propaganda”, presented by people who “lack the skills to investigate air crashes”.
Tusk is charged with treason
Defense Minister Macierewicz says former Prime Minister Donald Tusk may have cooperated with Russian President Putin to damage Poland’s interests following the 2010 Russia crash, when, among other things, then-President Lech Kaczyński perished. The Ministry of Defense has submitted a complaint against Tusk to the National Prosecutor, who must within a month decide on a formal investigation. In practice, the notification means that the government is accusing Tusk, now President of the European Council, of treason.
Protest bans are approved
The Constitutional Court approves a law that gives the authorities the right to prohibit counter-demonstrations within less than 100 meters of meetings or demonstrations that may be considered of national or historical significance. The decision is made by seven judges appointed by the current PiS government. Three judges appointed by the previous government are not allowed to take part in the decision, and a fourth has been forced to take a complete decision. The opposition considers the team invalid.
Tusk is called to testify
the 13th of March
Polish prosecutors call on Donald Tusk to testify in a lawsuit against two suspected former intelligence officers. According to Polish media, these are events in connection with the plane crash in Russian Smolensk 2010, when a large part of the Polish political and military elite perished and Tusk was prime minister. Tusk lets announce from Brussels that he is busy with something else.
Polish anger towards the EU
With 27 votes against one, Donald Tusk is re-elected as President of the European Council. The Polish government responds to the voting results by refusing to approve the summit’s final communication, which in principle invalidates the whole meeting. According to the Warsaw government, the vote shows that the EU has developed into a union under German leadership and that the result of the vote was a result of German pressure on several of the countries. Jarosław Kaczyński claims that the EU is now on the verge of collapse. Foreign Minister Waszczykowski says that Poland will now take a firm stand against the other EU countries and block other initiatives. Just because Poland’s closest allies in the EU – Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – voted for Donald Tusk is a tough blow to the country’s prestige and ambition to emerge as a regional leader.
A new party is formed
The activists who in February got the Hungarian government to withdraw an application to organize the 2024 Summer Olympics in Budapest formally form a political party. It is named Momentum Movement and plans to run for candidates in all 108 constituencies in the 2018 parliamentary elections. Among the party’s most important issues is said to be improving cooperation with the EU in the migration issue.
Poland wants to replace Tusk
4th of March
The Polish government brings forward Jacek Saryusz-Wolski MEP as candidate for President of the European Council when current President Donald Tusk’s term expires in May. Tusk, the former prime minister of Poland, has been widely expected to be routinely re-elected for two more years, but Polish government party PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński accuses him of “breaking the European Union’s basic rules”. Saryusz-Wolski has represented Tusk’s former party PO in the European Parliament but was excluded as soon as his candidacy was presented. The Christian Democratic and Liberal Conservative Party Grouping EPP in the European Parliament takes from Saryus-Wolski his post as Vice Party Speaker for his “lack of loyalty” to his party colleagues. The members of the EPP must decide whether he should be completely excluded.
Cardinal wants to let in Syrian refugees
In a shepherd letter to be read in all churches in Warsaw diocese, the city’s bishop, Cardinal Kazimierz Nyck, calls on the Polish government to give up its refusal to accept Syrian refugees. The cardinal wants “hundreds of” Muslim Syrians in urgent need of medical care to come to the country.
Polish response to the EU: We have already done everything
The Government submits its response to the European Commission on how the country has guaranteed the constitutional independence of the Constitutional Court. The message is that the changes in the court’s work carried out by the government have been in line with European principles and “created the conditions for the court to function normally”. The government accuses the Commission Vice-President Timmermans of “stigmatizing” the Polish government by trying to create a united front within the EU against Poland. Foreign Minister Waszczykowski says that the government believes that the dispute should thus be put aside.
President Duda signs the state budget for 2017, which is now in effect. He thus rejects a final appeal from PO leader Grzegorz Schetyna to allow a new vote.
American soldiers revolt in Russia
US soldiers and tanks are stationed in Poland as part of NATO’s strengthening of the eastern flank of the alliance, which will eventually amount to 3,000 more soldiers in the former communist countries of eastern Europe. The Russian government says the stationing of troops in Eastern Europe “constitutes a destabilizing factor”. Since NATO has pledged not to have permanent bases in the former members of the Warsaw Pact, the soldiers must be moved according to a rotating schedule.
Parliamentary boycott is canceled
The Liberal opposition is suspending the boycott of Parliament’s work since the ruling PiS agreed to withdraw the proposal to restrict media access to Parliament. However, the government refuses to redo the vote on the state budget or to delay Parliament’s opening to negotiate a solution to the budget crisis. PiS threatens to bring charges against members who continue to occupy the podium of the plenary.
Backlash for protest movement
Opposition movement KOD, which has led recent protests against the government, is hit by a setback when it turns out that leader Mateusz Kijowski has billed the organization over SEK 200,000 for services provided by his IT company. KOD lives on money donated by its supporters. At the same time, video recordings from the disputed budget vote in a temporary parliamentary chamber on December 17 show that enough members were present for the vote to have been legal.