January 8, 2018 / 2:15 PM / a year ago

Polish PM to announce cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s new prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, will reshuffle the two-year-old conservative government on Tuesday before flying to Brussels to discuss controversial judicial reforms.

FILE PHOTO: Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki delivers a speech during his and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May meeting with Polish and British soldiers and veterans at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw, Poland December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

The long-expected shake-up will probably involve naming a new finance, foreign, environment and health minister, several sources close to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party have told Reuters.

“The swearing-in should take place around noon,” Morawiecki’s spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said on Monday.

Teresa Czerwinska, a deputy finance minister responsible for budget affairs, is the most likely to succeed Morawiecki himself as finance minister, two sources said.

Two other sources said that either President Andrzej Duda’s top foreign policy adviser, Krzysztof Szczerski, or Adam Bielan, a deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, would replace Witold Waszczykowski as foreign minister.

“Szczerski has long been the top candidate but Bielan’s candidacy is also strong,” a government source said.

Morawiecki stepped up from finance minister to replace Beata Szydlo as premier last month, at the midpoint of the parliamentary term, as PiS gears up for local elections in late 2018 and parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019 and 2020.

Czerwinska is seen as loyal to Morawiecki and likely to continue his economic policy with little change of emphasis.

But it remains to be seen whether Morawiecki will improve Warsaw’s relations with Brussels. Poland, once a champion of democratic changes after the fall of Communism, is now at loggerheads with the European Union over sweeping changes to state institutions that critics say have undermined democracy and the rule of law.

Morawiecki is due to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Tuesday.

The EU executive launched an unprecedented action against Poland in December, calling on other member states to prepare sanctions if Warsaw fails to reverse a series of judicial reforms.

The PiS government says the reforms will speed up slow and inefficient courts and sweep away a lingering communist era-mentality. Brussels says they politicize the judiciary, and are at odds with core EU values.

Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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