The National Bank of Poland (NBP) has appealed to the European Central Bank in an attempt to block what it claims is the new Polish government’s “political attack” on its independence. In a letter, the ECB replied that preventing the NBP governor from performing his duties could affect the bank's independence.
Poland’s incoming centrist government of Civic Coalition, the Third Way, and the Left, says that the NBP and its governor Adam Glapinski violated the Polish Constitution by buying government bonds – as there is a constitutional ban on the NBP’s financing the government – and by its allegedly belated reaction to high inflation in Poland. The central bank also came under criticism for its shock decision to cut interest rates just before the October general election, when most analysts argued that it should maintain a tight monetary policy with inflation at 10%.
Glapinski is a longtime top figure of the radical right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came in first in the election last month but will most likely be unable to gather a majority in the parliament. PiS was in power between 2015 and 2023.
The new coalition – the would-be Prime Minister Donald Tusk in particular – promised to hold the outgoing PiS government and its allies to account for alleged wrongdoings during the party’s eight years in power since 2015.
But as the new majority does not have enough seats in the parliament to try President Andrzej Duda or outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, it might hit Glapinski instead, Tusk hinted. Glapinski was appointed to a second six-year term last year.
To put Glapinski on trial before the parliament-appointed State Tribunal, a simple majority of 50% votes plus one would be enough. The new coalition has 248 seats in the 460-seat lower house.
"The proposal ... is prepared but there is no political decision on the matter," said Ryszard Petru, a member of the Poland 2050 party – which is a part of the Third Way – and the chairman of the parliamentary economy committee told TOK FM.
If successful, making Glapinski show up before the State Tribunal would lead to his suspension from his duties at the NBP as well as in the General Council, an oversight body of the European Central Bank.
Glapinski is seeking support abroad in the meantime ahead of any decision.
“We are in contact with the European Central Bank and we are discussing now this suspension issue with them,” Marta Kightley, first deputy governor of the Polish central bank, said in an interview with the Financial Times.
“Any measure affecting your ability to perform your duties as Governor of NBP may, if not lawful, affect your independence and by extension the independence of the General Council,” the European Central Bank’s chief Christine Lagarde said in a letter to Glapinski, which the NBP governor made public this week.
Lagarde also said that any decision by the Polish parliament that would lead to suspending Glapinski from his duties at the NBP – and also at the General Council, the ECB’s oversight body – could be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union to “ask for the assessment of its lawfulness,” Lagarde wrote.
Glapinski's approach to the ECB is ironic as he opposes the adoption of the euro in Poland and has spoken critically of the ECB several times, along the lines of the Eurozone bank usurping too much power over individual member states of the EU. The governor’s criticism echoes PiS’ general scepticism of the bloc’s institutions.