During the election campaign in Poland four musketeers – Polish Prime Minister Doland Tusk, President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski and Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski – promised to Poles 300 billion zlotys from the EU budget. It seemed to me that at least one of them (Commissioner Lewandowski) behaved improperly since he was appointed to represent the whole European Union and he must not take any instructions from government or from any other body. I had sent a letter to President Barroso asking about this matter. This morning he sent me the response.
Barroso does not see any problem, though he explains it in an intricate way. By the way, in his letter Barroso writes warm words about the Polish Commissioner. The case is closed, however, this will be precedent because it provides the interpretation of behaviour for all the commissioners in a situation when the party calls them to participate in an electoral fight.
The matter will inevitably come back when we will see how much Poland actually gets from the EU fund. But this is another story.
Here is the letter from President Barroso:
Dear Mr. Siwiec,
Thank you for your letter of 21 September concerning the television appearance of Mr Lewandowski, Commission Member responsible for financial programming and budget, in the context of the election campaign in Poland.
Firstly, I would underline the importance the Commission attaches to the respect of the Treaties and in particular to the independence of its Members, who discharge their duties in the general interest of the Union. In this respect, in the performance of their duties they must neither seek nor take instructions from any government or from any other body. I consider that the respect of those ethical principles by all Members of the Commission is of utmost importance.
The code of conduct for Commission Members is to be understood in this context. It foresees that they may be politically active, provided that this does not compromise their ability for service in the Commission or their independence in their functions. They are required to inform the President of the Commission of their intention to participate in an election campaign and of the role they intend to play.
Mr Lewandowski informed me about his intention to participate in the launching of the Civic Platform electoral campaign and in a TV spot. In conformity with the provisions of the code of conduct for Commission Members, I agreed with this limited participation; Mr Lewandowski is not a candidate and his participation in this one-off event was not of a nature to compromise his ability for service in the Commission.
It should be noted that Mr Lewandowski participated in the spot in his own name, and expressed his personal opinion, without putting at risk his independence in the exercise of his duties as Commission Member. The Commission regrets that the spot gave rise to misunderstandings and I would like to clarify that in the exercise of his duties, Mr Lewandowski always respects his obligations deriving from the Treaties and from the code of conduct for Commission Members, in particular promoting the general interest of the Union in full independence.
Jose Manuel BARROSO