February 3, 2023

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Poland closer to EU aid as Brussels backs recovery plan despite doubts

2 min read

Brussels has backed Poland’s long-delayed economic recovery plan, potentially unlocking billions of euros for Warsaw, despite doubts within the European Commission over its commitment to legal reforms.

Warsaw submitted its pitch for a share of the €800bn NextGenerationEU Covid-19 recovery fund in May last year, proposing to tap as much as €36bn of EU grants and loans. Its bid has been held up by a protracted dispute with the commission over Polish rules that Brussels believes undermine the independence of its judiciary.

Paolo Gentiloni, economics commissioner, confirmed the plan had been adopted in a commissioners’ vote in Brussels on Wednesday.

However, Margrethe Vestager and Frans Timmermans — two of the commission’s three executive vice-presidents — voted against the decision, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Their high-level opposition underlines concerns within Brussels over Poland’s willingness to uphold EU standards on the rule of law.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is expected to travel to Warsaw on Thursday to confirm the decision, which also needs to be approved by the EU member states.

Von der Leyen last year set out three important changes that Brussels wants as conditions for payments under the Polish recovery plan: dismantling a chamber with the power to discipline judges, overhauling the disciplinary regime and reinstating dismissed judges.

The commission has been locked in talks with Warsaw over introducing those reforms to its recovery and resilience plan (RRP) as conditions for payments. Early this year Polish president Andrzej Duda put forward a bill to scrap the disciplinary chamber for judges. Poland’s parliament is still debating the legislation.

Speaking to reporters, Gentiloni said the commission was confident that if EU member states implemented the decision then Poland would make good on its commitments. “Of course we will assess this fulfilment very, very strongly,” he added….

2022-06-01 17:44:58

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