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Poland: Time abroad, in finance seen as active candidate of PM

WARSAW, Poland – Poland Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a former banker, would bring to the prime minister's office economic and international experience as an asset while the country faces Criticisms of others The European Union members for policies that have raised concerns of democratic backsliding.

Morawiecki, 49, is widely regarded as one of the most competent cabinet members of the Polish government and has the confidence of the ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski although he is relatively newcomer and became a member of Law and Justice only after joining the government.

As Minister of Finance and Economic Development, he has been granted credit for overseeing an economy that has grown in the two years since Law and Justice took office, with growth by more than 4 percent and unemployment at a minimum historic of less than 7 percent.

The question is whether Morawiecki will take the direction of the powerful Kaczynski as outgoing Prime Minister Beata Szydloto made or tried to follow an independent path. His background in many respects makes him an unusual choice for populist Law and Justice.

Before joining the government, Morawiecki ran the BZ WBK bank, which is controlled by the Santander Group of Spain. The ruling party in whose name the Polish government will lead seeks to limit foreign influence and global capitalism, and has increased state spending on welfare programs.

Morawiecki is the son of a prominent pro-democracy activist of the 1980s who is now a lawmaker, Kornel Morawiecki. His political activity began in a union of independent students and his father's anti-communist organization, Fighting Solidarity. For his activism, he says he was arrested and beaten by communist security forces.

He studied history in his hometown of Wroclaw, in southwestern Poland, graduated from the Department of Management and Business of the University of Science and Technology of Wroclaw and obtained an MBA from the University of Economics of Wroclaw. He then studied at the Central State University of Connecticut and also in Germany, Switzerland and Northwestern University in the US state of Illinois.

With his studies abroad and his professional experience, Morawiecki, who speaks English and German, could be better prepared than Szydlo to represent the country abroad while Poland confronts the EU for a proposed revision of the judiciary and other policies considered undemocratic.

He was a member of the government team that negotiated the financial terms of Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004. He then entered the banking sector and eventually served as chairman of the board of directors of BZ WBK.

He was an advisor to former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who apparently did not block his political rise even though Law and Justice considers Tusk a foe.

Before assuming his position in the government in the fall of 2015, he served as honorary consul of Ireland.

Earlier this year, I, Poland's first finance minister, were invited to a meeting of G20 ministers in Germany.

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