Law and Justice Continues to Deprive Poles of Money from EU Recovery and Cohesion Funds

Frans Snyders: Three Monkeys Stealing Fruit (1640s) // Public domain

The National Recovery Plan, as the official website of the Polish government states, is a program introduced in order to reinforce the revival and development of Poland’s economic resilience in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the following economic crisis. It is supposed to consist of fifty-four major investments and forty eight reforms conducted by the Polish government, thanks to which the country could more easily withstand upcoming economic challenges, simultaneously regaining its former capacity.

Such operations would be possible due to a vast financial aid obtained from the European Union Recovery Fund, which provides EU member states with significant subsidies. The amount of money meant to be given to the Polish government would be nearly PLN 160 bn (app. EUR 33.5 bn) and it would lay foundations for future changes in the field of green energetic transition, as well as digitalization. Increased economic growth and employment are further benefits that such injection was expected to cause, according to the officials.

The talks over the National Recovery Plan were to begin in February. Since then, the European Commission set particular conditions on which the assets would be transferred to Poland, mainly linked with the improvement of the deteriorating situation regarding rule of law in the country. The Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, agreed upon them, however afterwards, the aims of Law and Justice, the current Polish ruling party, apparently shifted.

No action has been taken in order to restore the independence of the judiciary system, nor to strengthen the tripartite division of power. Instead, the government continued to exercise its influence in the Constitutional Tribunal and the National Judiciary Council.

In response, the European Commission has withheld the funds. “The Polish authorities do not intend to change the laws in accordance with the recovery fund, so we cannot and will not provide it with any money”- said its president, Ursula von der Leyen. Months passed, but Polish officials stood their ground, in fact giving up any financial aid and blaming the European Union for their reluctance to issue such.

The narrative that they created suggests that the requirements set up by the commission infringe upon Polish sovereignty and its own legislature. Particular representatives of the ruling environment declared to sue the Commission for its disregard towards the Polish constitution.

Similar threats were recently made by the president of Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński, when the Commission announced that it intends to freeze further billions of euros for Poland, that were meant to be issued from the EU’s cohesion funds, for the same reason.

The money from the cohesion funds is addressed to reinforce poorer EU member states in catching up with other European countries and Poland is their largest recipient. Along with the Recovery Fund, they are vital to revive the Polish economy, which is now heavily burdened by raging inflation, supply shocks caused by the war in Ukraine and the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic. If the assets were issued, various investments would be conducted by now, and instead, Poland continues to lag behind, being governed by its statist officials.

It is them who are the only beneficiaries of such order, since, by drawing people’s attention to the fact that no money goes in the hands of the Polish government, they intentionally cause public aversion to the institutions of the European Union and its representatives. Should it ever come to any actions taken against further cooperation between Poland and the rest of Europe, it would be easier for them to influence the citizens, disappointed by the decisions of the Commission.

The less significant the EU’s control of the decisions made on national level is, the greater authority over the state they would be able to exercise, and that’s the aim of Kaczyński. However, it could only be done at the expense of ordinary people, who will see no money from European assets, unlike their foreign neighbors.

Written by: Mateusz Gwozdz

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