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Monday, October 18, 2021

Reconstruction Fund. Vera Jourova for Politico on preparations to trigger the rule of law condition

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Brussels wants to link the disbursements of funds from the Reconstruction Fund for Poland with “milestones” under which the Polish government would commit to restoring the independence of the judiciary, writes Politico. As the deputy head of the European Commission, Vera Jourova, said in an interview with the portal, first of all, the Disciplinary Chamber – the questioned chamber of the Supreme Court – “must stop all activities”. – Brussels did not create this dilemma. It was created internally, for the purposes of internal politics, said Jourova. Her statements were commented on by the spokesman of Solidarna Polska – the party headed by the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro.

The Reconstruction Fund is a means of reviving the EU economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the same time responding to the greatest challenges of our time: the climate and digital transformation. To receive support, Member States must present their recovery plans to the European Commission. The Polish National Reconstruction Plan was delivered to Brussels in early May this year.

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Even though five months have passed since then, our country is still waiting for the green light from the European Commission. Each EU member receives the first money only after the European Commission approves a national spending plan that must meet the criteria set out in EU law.

Brussels has already approved 18 national plans, is holding back on approving documents such as from Poland and Hungary. The reasons in these cases are concerns about the independence of the judiciary and freedom of the media.

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Brussels is ready to approve the Polish reconstruction plan, but there is a condition

On Friday, the Polico website said, citing EU officials, that the European Commission is ready to approve the Polish reconstruction plan in November if Warsaw agrees to steps to restore the rule of law. “This would pave the way for the EU to pay the first installment of 13 percent of the total Polish recovery package, amounting to EUR 24 billion in subsidies,” writes Politico.

Brussels wants to link disbursements to Poland with legally binding “milestones” under which the Polish government would commit to restoring the independence of the judiciary, EU officials told the portal.

A train that cannot be stopped

“The milestones will be based on the ruling of the CJEU, which means that the Polish Disciplinary Chamber must cease all activities, and Warsaw should reform the Chamber,” Vera Jourova, the deputy head of the European Commission, said in an interview with the portal. It is about the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, the competence of which is being questioned.

The deputy head of the European Commission assured that she did not want to punish “ordinary Polish citizens”. – Brussels did not create this dilemma. It was created internally for the purposes of internal politics, she assessed.

As Politico points out, the European Commission also has a new mechanism linking the payment of EU funds to the rule of law. According to the portal, the mechanism could be launched against Poland and Hungary before October 25, when the meeting of the EP budget control committee is planned.

“Preparations for triggering the rule of law are too advanced for us not to take advantage of them,” said Jourova. “The train is already moving at high speed and cannot be stopped,” she added.

Vera Jourova at the European Parliament PAP / EPA

A spokesman for Solidarity Poland on Jourova’s words

On Saturday at a press conference, spokesman for Solidarna Polska and deputy head of the Ministry of Climate, Jacek Ozdoba described Jourova’s statements as “scandalous” and transgressing the law and good manners.

– This is an element of blackmail that is supposed to put pressure on Poland. You can paraphrase “give the monkey a razor and you don’t know what he will do with it.” And this is also the case with the so-called rule of law. We can see that this mechanism, which was not supposed to appear, suddenly appears and Poland becomes an element of blackmail, a political game – said Ozdoba. – It does not fall within the framework of any legal rules, treaty policy, any rules that are in force in the European Union. It is not only anti-European, but also indecent, he assessed.

During the negotiations of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, Solidarity Poland opposed the mechanism of conditionality of disbursement of funds from the budget, which would depend on compliance with the rule of law. Politicians from Zbigniew Ziobro’s party then called on Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to veto the budget.

A spokesman for Solidarna Polska said that Jourova’s words showed the “incalculability” of the European Commission.

Main photo source: Jan VAN DE VEL / EU



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