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EU funds. Poland may lose billions of euros

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If the Law and Justice government does not make concessions in the dispute over the rule of law with the European Commission, Poland will lose virtually all structural assistance from the European Union at the turn of the year – reports “Der Spiegel”. We are talking about funds amounting to EUR 75 billion.

Poland still receives funds from the 2014-2020 budget, but as “Der Spiegel” reminds, 93 percent these payments have already been exhausted and will finally stop on December 31.

What’s next? Poland would be entitled to structural funds from the 2021-2027 budget. However, they were blocked in October 2022 by the European Commission because Poland did not meet some necessary conditions, such as compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

According to “Der Spiegel”, failure to comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights “will also lead to the blocking of payments from other EU funds, including those for fisheries, asylum, migration, border management and internal security, from January 1.”

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Billions of euros at risk

In October last year “Rzeczpospolita” wrotethat in addition to withholding funds from National Reconstruction Plan “More than EUR 75 billion from the so-called normal budget under cohesion policy is also questionable.” “Poland can start implementing projects because four operational programs have already been approved by the European Commission, but it cannot count on the Commission to pay the bills sent to Brussels,” Rz reported at the time. It was about failure to meet the condition regarding the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Financial Times also previously reported that European Union institutions are ready to freeze funds for regional aid for Poland due to concerns about the independence of the Polish justice system.

The Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy argued then that the EC had received a letter from the government, which supposedly showed that the condition regarding the Charter of Fundamental Rights was met. “A technical dialogue is still ongoing on this matter,” it was explained in October 2022.

Read also: Gigantic money for Poland and two “unfulfilled” conditions

In March 2023, the Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was asked about this issue at a conference related to the ongoing European Union summit. – There is no problem with payments from the Cohesion Fund. These payments are coming in line with what was expected. At the beginning there are advance payments, now the programs enter the design phase and then implementation. It is always the case that first the expenses must be certified, then they are eligible, and then the payments are made – argued the Prime Minister.

However, the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said two days earlier that “all countries must meet horizontal conditions, their fulfillment is necessary to have access to funds, which is related to our responsibility for Europeans’ money.” – And yes, there is a problem in the case of Poland regarding respect for fundamental rights – she said.

– Some aspects of this matter were resolved in such a way that we were able to agree with Poland on the general assumptions and signing of operational programs. That is why Poland receives technical support and money for advance payments, but when it comes to reimbursement of invoices, when the projects have already started, in order for Poland to receive the money, we will also have to solve the remaining legal issues, she noted.

– So we are waiting for developments within the country, because Poland claims that compliance with the regulations is already guaranteed, but unfortunately, until then we cannot ensure normal payments in accordance with the principles of Cohesion Policy – she explained.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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