Five ministers dismissed and a brand new ministry set up — these are the results of the Polish government reshuffle announced on January 9. The two most controversial ministers to lose their jobs are Antoni Macierewicz, who’s been unsuccessfully trying to solve the Smolensk crash mystery, and Jan Szyszko, the infamous minister of the environment who decided to increase logging in the primeval Białowieża Forest.
“This is a new government for a new and better Poland,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said when announcing the changes. “For us the most important matter is to build a strong and safe Poland, both at its borders and within its borders.”
Mr Morawiecki’s former deputies at the Ministry of Economic Development and Finance — Teresa Czerwińska and Jerzy Kwieciński — became the new minister of finance and minister of investment and development respectively. Jadwiga Emilewicz will take the reins of the newly created Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology.
Minister of Digital Affairs Anna Streżyńska also lost her job, as the Ministry of Digitisation was dissolved and its responsibilities handed to the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology. This comes as a shock, considering that Ms Streżyńska is one person that maintained good ties with the EU amidst the other difficulties facing Poland at the moment. It could be said that the dissolution of the Ministry of Digitisation may weaken Poland’s current ties with the EU even further.
The reshuffle comes ahead of Prime Minister Morawiecki’s trip to Brussels to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. This change of cabinet ministers could be seen as a move by the newly appointed prime minister to realign with the EU after the pressure that has been applied in recent months. The change saw many of the current governments most controversial ministers replaced.
The judicial reforms at the heart of the dispute with Brussels, which are seen by PiS as a fundamental element of its efforts to overhaul Poland’s democratic institutions, have not been affected by the changes — Minister of Justice and General Prosecutor Zbigniew Ziobro has remained in office.