€75bn in EU aid threatened over rule of law row

17 Oct 2022

Poland could miss out on up to €75 billion in European Union regional aid as the dispute over the country’s failure to uphold the law intensifies.

According to a report by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, the European Commission refuses to reimburse Poland for investments made from four programs within the EU’s 2021-2027 budget, says director general for regional and urban policy, Marc Lemaitre. EU spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker told the newspaper that the country still has not met the repayment conditions.  

The likely freezing of the funding follows on from the EU’s €35.4 billion payouts after the pandemic. Warsaw then failed to overturn amendments in the judiciary that according to Brussels grants politicians too much influence over courts and undermines the rule of law, Bloomberg reports.

The funds have been key to the country’s economic transformation since Poland joined the EU back in 2004. 

According to Law & Justice party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, he is doubtful the country will receive the funding ahead of the upcoming general elections next October. 

Furthermore, in reference to Monday’s Rzeczpospolita report, the Polish Minister for EU Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said on public radio that he knew about the risks associated with the funding. 

“I will do my best to make sure that the risks don’t materialise,” he said. “I’m convinced that we’ve met all the conditions.”  

In addition, Poland is attempting to convince the EU to release its first payment within the €800 billion Covid recovery fund, a separate disbursement that also remains blocked, due to the rule of law breaches, Financial Times reports.