Włodzimierz Karpiński, former secretary of Warsaw and minister of treasury in the PO-PSL government, who is in custody in connection with the “junk scandal”, decided to take up the mandate of an MEP. The seat in the European Parliament was vacated by another MP who won a seat in the last elections to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland. The letter from the politician’s representatives was sent to the secretariat of the Speaker of the Sejm on Thursday.
Information about Karpiński’s decision was reported by RMF FM radio. The radio station’s website published a handwritten statement addressed to the Speaker of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, in which the politician informed that he consented “to taking up the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament.” This information was confirmed to us by attorney Michał Królikowski, who represents the politician.
A seat in the European Parliament has become vacant
This is an unprecedented situation because Włodzimierz Karpiński is waiting in custody until the end of the investigation into the so-called garbage scandal. The politician ran in the European Parliament elections in 2019 on the list of the Civic Coalition. However, he gained only 3.5 thousand votes and was fourth on the list. Krzysztof Hetman received the greatest support (105,000 votes) and he has been a member of the European Parliament for four and a half years.
Everything changed after the October elections to the Polish Parliament. Hetman took up the mandate of a member of the Sejm, which means resigning from the mandate of an MEP. Then it would go to the person with the second result on the list – Joanna Musza (70,000 votes). However, Mucha also just got into the Sejm. The third result was achieved by Riad Haidar (16.8 thousand votes), but he died on May 25 this year. Karpiński is next on the list.
Arrest is not an obstacle to taking up a mandate
What is the procedure for taking up a mandate? Łukasz Kempara, press attaché of the European Parliament, explained in an interview with the Polish Press Agency that in order for Włodzimierz Karpiński to take up the mandate, first of all, the representative of the Polish authorities – the Marshal of the Sejm – should notify the EP about the effective election of the MP. After receiving this information, the European Parliament sends a declaration to the Member to complete. The MP then declares in writing that there are no circumstances that prevent him from taking up the mandate.
Kempara emphasized that the fact that Karpiński was in custody was not an obstacle to taking up the mandate. – To take up the mandate, he will not have to take any oath. He will only have to sign appropriate documents stating that there are no circumstances related to “incompatibilitas”, i.e. that nothing puts him in such a situation that he would not be able to hold the mandate of an MP – he said.
– We know from media reports that Mr. Karpiński has declared his willingness to take up the mandate, such a document is in the hands of the Speaker of the Polish Sejm, the European Parliament is a passive party in the entire procedure until it receives notification from the Polish authorities that Mr. Karpiński has been correctly elected to the European Parliament. Only then will he be able to ask Mr. Karpiński whether there are any conditions related to the principle of incompatible functions – explained Łukasz Kempara in an interview with a TVN24 reporter. He added that after the person concerned submits such a declaration, the chairman of the session will inform about Karpiński taking up the mandate.
Expert: the court may request the waiver of immunity
Ph.D. Marcin Górski from the University of Łódź, specializing in European constitutional law, explained in an interview with PAP that “in accordance with the provisions and case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, Włodzimierz Karpiński should be allowed to effectively assume the mandate of an MEP and, in principle, he should be released from custody.”
The expert noted that the Polish court may not consent to the termination of the preventive measure. – If the national court, feeling responsible for ensuring the effectiveness of EU law, comes to the conclusion that it cannot release Mr. Karpiński, it should immediately submit a request to the European Parliament to waive his immunity. If the European Parliament does not lift the immunity, the man will have to be released, said Górski.
The European Parliament refers to the national authorities
TVN24 correspondent from Brussels, Maciej Sokołowski, asked the European Parliament about Karpiński’s status and his immunity. However, the institution refers to the national authorities. According to the reporter, the European Parliament has still not received information from Poland about who will replace Hetman. And it is solely up to the authorities in Poland to designate such a person.
The EP argues that the moment of receiving immunity also depends on the national authorities, i.e. when they determine that the MEP has been elected and provide such information to the EP. Its representatives do not recall a situation in which a person elected as an MEP was in custody.
The National Prosecutor’s Office has not received any information yet
The press department of the National Prosecutor’s Office clarified that “the procedure for suspect Włodzimierz K. to take up the mandate of an MEP may only begin when the mandate is vacated by the person who has previously held the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament.” It is initiated by the Speaker of the Sejm on the basis of information from the National Electoral Commission.
“To date, the Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, neither the suspect nor his defense lawyers have submitted any information to the Prosecutor’s Office about the initiation of such a procedure. In the event of obtaining information about the effective submission by Włodzimierz K. to the Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland of his will to assume the mandate of a Member of Parliament European Parliament, the prosecutor will consider all legal and procedural consequences resulting from the provisions on the protection of immunity of Members of the European Parliament,” informed the Press Department of the National Prosecutor’s Office.
A letter from Karpiński’s representatives was submitted to the Sejm
On Wednesday evening, the Sejm Information Center informed PAP that a letter from Włodzimierz Karpiński’s representatives, dated November 3, 2023, was sent to the secretariat of the Sejm Marshal on November 8.
As reported, “the attachment to this letter is a letter signed by Mr. Włodzimierz Karpiński dated October 20 this year, in which he stated that he consented to taking up the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament.”
“We would like to point out that the bodies obliged to act in this matter must take appropriate steps to fill the mandate in accordance with the order of persons who have priority to take it. After collecting the complete documentation in this matter, it will be possible to answer the question of who will take over the mandate of the MP. released to the European Parliament by Krzysztof Hetman, MP-elect for the Sejm of the 10th term,” CIS reported.
Corruption charge – PLN 5 million
Włodzimierz Karpiński was detained on February 27 this year at the request of the Silesian department of the National Prosecutor’s Office. Earlier, during the same investigation, the former head of Employers of Poland, Rafał Baniak, who served as Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Treasury in 2011-2015, was detained and was also arrested after hearing the allegations at the prosecutor’s request.
Karpiński was accused of having jointly and in consultation with other people, including Baniak, demanded a financial benefit of 2.5% from the president of one of the companies. the value of public procurement obtained from the Municipal Purification Company in Warsaw in exchange for changing the specifications of the essential terms of public procurement.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the value of the orders was almost PLN 600 million. The allegations include Karpiński accepting an amount of almost PLN 5 million. According to the findings of the investigation, corruption acts occurred from April 2020 to December 2022 in Warsaw. Karpiński was then the president of the Municipal Purification Company in the Capital City of Warsaw, and then the secretary of the Capital City of Warsaw.
tvnwarszawa.pl, rmf24.pl, PAP, TVN24
Main photo source: PAP