Statement by Jacek Krawczyk, Vice President of the Confederation Lewiatan, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee, President of the Employers’ Group of the EESC and the Group’s candidate for the next EESC president

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In reference to previous and recent publications in Politico, Onet and Gazeta Wyborcza I would like to state the following:

  1. I strongly reject the charges against me and will defend my good name and the name of the Employers’ Group, which I have chaired for 7.5 years, in the court proceedings that I have been waiting for. I also requested the Committee to suspend my immunity so that the prosecutor’s office in Belgium could initiate proceedings.
  2. It is not the responsibility of the President of the EESC or the EESC Bureau to dismiss me from the position of President of the Employers’ Group, this can be done solely by the Group. I therefore consider the statement by Luca Jahier in which he does not consider me President of the Group as unfounded. I consider such action to be political and even hostile, breaching the principle of the presumption of innocence and being contrary to the law.
  3. In June, the EESC Bureau made a mere recommendation on this matter, which I could not and cannot agree with. The reasons are discussed below.

 I have been a member of the EESC for 16 years, I was elected EESC Vice President for the Budget in 2010 and most recently, three times in a row (every 2.5 years), the Employers’ Group has elected me as its President. I have authored numerous opinions adopted by the EESC and I have initiated the establishment of a transatlantic dialogue structure within the EESC. Wherever possible, I have tried to strengthen the position of Poland, Central and Eastern Europe and remind of the importance of the Eastern Partnership for the EU.

Over all these years, there has been no signal from the EESC’s Secretary General, HR and administration that my management of staff or behaviour towards members of the Group and the EESC may have been inappropriate, and the subsequent elections have only confirmed the trust of the members of the Employers’ Group in me.

It was only at the end of 2018, when I announced my readiness to run for President of the EESC, that the first accusations appeared in the media, and in 2019 the EESC administration and OLAF initiated proceedings, about which I was notified by OLAF in October 2019. Threats sent to me by email directly informed that this would not end up nicely for me. Information on OLAF’s proceedings was circulating in social media, although I did not have any access to it.

Nevertheless, in January 2020, the Employers’ Group elected me, by a significant majority, as the Group’s candidate for President of the EESC for the new 2020-2023 term of office (the elections to be held in October 2020). The OLAF report was forwarded to the EESC and the Committee on Budgets of the European Parliament, although I was never allowed to read the entire document. My participation in the proceedings for all months was limited to one-day hearing in OLAF.

Following the EP Commission’s resolution, in which my name appeared, calling on the EESC to introduce rules to protect workers from potential psychological harassment in the future, the EESC President felt that the only right answer was to punish me. My case was presented to the so-called EESC Advisory Committee, which conducted the proceedings without any legal basis and without any rules of procedure. I was invited to the meeting on March 4, 2020, however, in the absence of consent for my attorney to attend the meeting, I was not able to provide relevant explanations. The Committee continued to act, without any rules of procedure or legal basis, without representatives of the Employers’ Group, who were either excluded or resigned in protest against this way of procedure. It used to be called a kangaroo court.

On 30 April 2020, the Advisory Committee, without hearing me and my attorneys, without giving me any opportunity to provide explanations, closed its proceedings with a recommendation that I should resign from the position of President of the Employers’ Group and resign from running for President of the EESC and with the prohibition of direct contact with the staff. (interestingly, the General Court of the European Union, in other proceedings to secure my rights, found that there are no obstacles to act as President of the Group).

And all this was happening while I was fighting for my life. At the end of March 2020 I was suddenly taken to hospital where I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor stroke. Finally, on April 20, after I recovered from pneumonia, the tumor was operated and removed. I am very grateful to Professor Waldemar Koszewski from the Bielany Hospital in Warsaw and his team for saving my life.

At the same time, the Advisory Committee, ignoring the fact that I had no opportunity to present my reasons, made its decisions! This is how compliance with the law in the EESC looks like in my case. EESC itself has repeatedly called for respect for citizens’ rights, compliance with the rule of law, fair courts, the right of defence.

It is difficult to imagine my situation: on the one hand, the need to remain calm, to avoid stress, impossibility to take up any kind of work (sight and speech problems, problems with keeping balance, etc.), on the other hand, the pressure of the EESC President, Luca Jahier, to decide on my plans in the Committee, on the basis of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, whose conduct I protested and whose report was rejected by the Employers' Group Presidency.

In order to ensure the functioning of the Group, I handed over my competences to the future President of the Group in a new term of office, keeping in touch with him to the extent allowed by my health condition.

Meanwhile, the EESC President constantly pressured me to step down, without discussing it with me and despite the clear message that all decisions would be taken after my rehabilitation and convalescence and my return to Brussels.

Today I am in Brussels, for the first time in 6 months, I have taken over as President of the Employers’ Group, we are preparing meetings of the Group, we are developing different options of procedure and the EESC President and the media are communicating that I do not want to resign from my current position and from running for President of the EESC.

Why I do not want to do it and why I cannot do it:

  • first of all, I do not feel like a criminal
  • secondly, I take my mandate and the position of President of the Group and its members seriously
  • thirdly, I represent a large EU Member State and a major employers’ organisation, a member of BusinessEurope
  • fourthly, I promised the Group that I would not take the decision to continue to run for President of the EESC without its participation and without the possibility of a personal discussion, and this is possible only now
  • my term of office as President of the Group ends anyway in two weeks.

I have the impression that the whole matter may also be based on a belief that a Pole should not run for President of the EESC today, that by my actions I have challenged the interests of the administration, that I openly defend the interests of employers. This is a vivid reminder of the situation from 2006, when the EESC administration and OLAF instigated proceedings against the candidate of the Employers’ Group for President of the EESC and referred the proceedings to the public prosecutor's office. The candidate resigned and was acquitted after 7 years of judicial proceedings.

Finally, I am still bound by the confidentiality clause, which I do not violate when the other side sends biased information to the European Parliament, to the media, to EESC members. My long and justified absence was used to slander my reputation and my good name.

Jacek Krawczyk

Brussels, 03.09.2020